Wed | Aug 5, 2020

PNP backs lawsuit against WINDALCO, calls on gov't to step up enforcement

Published:Sunday | October 20, 2019 | 12:00 AM
Opposition spokesman on Water, Environment and Climate Change, Dr Fenton Ferguson

The People's National Party (PNP) says its backing legal action against West Indies Alumina Company (WINDALCO), which reportedly released effluent into the Rio Cobre and contaminated the river that is a major water source for many residents living on its banks.

In a release today Dr. Fenton Ferguson, the Opposition spokesman on Water, Environment and Climate Change, said the Opposition is in support of St Catherine North Central’s Member of Parliament Natalie Neita, in her pursuit of possible legal action against WINDALCO on behalf of her constituents. 

Ferguson is also demanding that the people receive proper and adequate compensation for the damages and inconvenience suffered as a result of the contamination by WINDALCO.

At the same, he is expressing "grave concern at the constant breaches and flagrant disregard for proper environmental practices and laws by selfish practitioners and companies in Jamaica".

Ferguson is calling for Daryl Vaz, who has responsibility for environmental matters, to urgently address the frequent environmental breaches by WINDALCO, which has repeatedly discharged effluent into the Rio Cobre. 

"This has resulted at times in disastrous fish kills, loss of livelihood, illness relating to infected fish consumption and contamination of water for domestic usage," he asserted.

Additionally, Ferguson said Vaz should concentrate the full force of his office on restoring environmental best practice through uninterrupted compliance with the NRCA Act, the Wild Life Protection Act and the uncompromising implementation of related penalties for not only WINDALCO, but all companies and institutions in breach of the said acts.

The environment spokesman wants Vaz to "immediately instruct NEPA to map and establish a working list of our priority rivers and waterways, locate all businesses and companies along these areas for potential hazards, but more importantly, to direct the constant monitoring, testing and prevention of destructive discharge into our rivers and waterways".