Foul affair

Published: Saturday | November 17, 2012 Comments 0

Petrojam to face strong enforcement action over 'operational issues'

Three days after a mysterious substance polluted sections of the Corporate Area, the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) says it still has not identified the chemical.

As a result, director of the legal and enforcement division at NEPA, Robert Collie, said the agency is unable to tell members of the public impacted by the fumes what kind of treatment they should seek.

Collie said the best option now is for Petrojam, the state-owned oil refinery cited as the source of the fumes, to reveal the name of the chemical.

"The best thing is for Petrojam to tell us what the substance is so we can tell the public how they can seek treatment," Collie said, noting that Petrojam has been cooperating.

He said preliminary data suggest that the chemical could be "some kind of hydrocarbon" such as gasolene or kerosene which could be relatively harmless.

Following an in-depth investigation, NEPA revealed yesterday that the pollution was tracked to Petrojam's refinery on Marcus Garvey Drive in St Andrew.

FAILURE TO REPORT

In a statement released yesterday, Environment Minister Robert Pickersgill said Petrojam confirmed that the facility experienced "operational issues" that resulted in the release of a petroleum-based product into the environment.

Pickersgill promised that "strong enforcement action" would be taken against the refinery.

The minister said he instructed NEPA to immediately investigate the reasons why Petrojam failed to report the pollution incident.

"This will of course trigger a strong enforcement action and the public can be assured that cases of pollution incidents will always be quickly investigated," he said.

One action that can be taken against Petrojam, Collie explained, is the issuing of an enforcement notice that would allow NEPA to forcibly correct the problem at Petrojam's expense.

The fumes forced the closure of several schools in the Marcus Garvey Drive area and left several persons feeling sick.

The environment minister apologised to members of the public impacted by the fumes and praised NEPA for the speedy manner in which it was able to establish the source of the pollution.

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