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Clarendon Distillers, PCSC waste disposal deal 'not working'

Published:Friday | September 14, 2012 | 12:00 AM

The order to lock down Clarendon Distillers Limited (CDL) in March was lifted shortly after, says Jamaica's environmental watchdog, following a deal with Chinese sugar producers to handle the rum producers' problematic waste.

Clarendon Distillers, because of its location on lands at Monymusk sugar estate that were once controlled by the Government but now belong to Pan Caribbean Sugar Company (PCSC), has no viable means of disposing of the dunder or waste generated by its rum operation and was cited for discharging effluent into the environment without a permit.

The dunder, which was previously allowed to flow into the Rio Minho river, is now stored in contained areas and the agreement is that Pan Caribbean Sugar would use it for fertilisation of its crops, according to Peter Knight, head of the National Environmental Protection Agency, describing what appears to be a short-term agreement between the companies.

However, Knight told the Financial Gleaner on Wednesday that the agreement between CDL and PCSC has not been working effectively.

The Chinese company, which acquired Monymusk and two other sugar estates in 2009, has not removed the waste in a timely manner, and now the pools are full, he said.

Several calls requesting comment from Clarendon Distillers and its parent National Rums of Jamaica, as well as PCSC, have gone unanswered.

However, an inside source at the rum company says the operations at Clarendon Distillers have been scaled back dramatically.

Since CDL has no alternative ways of disposing the waste, they, therefore, have to scale down operations "quite significantly", so as to limit the amount of waste generated, Knight confirmed.

"Anytime the pond fills up, they have to stop," said the environmental regulator, referring to production at CDL.

"If rain falls, Pan Caribbean cannot use the dunder either," he added.

The situation has left CDL in a precarious position.

"If they allow the pond to overflow, or if they wilfully dispose of it in the environment, then they would be in breach," said Knight.

He told the Financial Gleaner that CDL is trying to source technology in India to address the problem.