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Bartlett threatens court action

Published:Thursday | March 15, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Sheena Gayle, Gleaner Writer

EAST CENTRAL St James Member of Parliament Edmund Bartlett has threatened to take legal action on behalf of his constituents, who have been affected by the discharge of raw sewage from the Rosedale Sewage Treatment Facility in St James.

Construction company West Indies Home Contractors (WIHCON) is responsible for the facility whose non-functioning pumps resulted in a major discharge of raw sewage into the Spot Valley River over the weekend.

Meanwhile, The Jamaica Envi-ronment Trust is calling for the Public Health Department to release the results of tests carried out at the Spot Valley River.

WIHCON has said it was reviewing its plant and equipment failure protocols to prevent raw sewage from being released into the river.

"We have to take steps to protect the citizens in this area and to protect their health. We also have to take steps to preserve the ecology in the area," said Bartlett, during his tour of the area on Monday.

"We are going to be talking to the lawyers to see what recourse the people have in this regard, because when we came here the stench that hit us was unbearable, and I am sure the residents have had to suffer through this for the last few days," Bartlett said.

Like Bartlett, Spot Valley resident Satahue Grange is particularly upset by the fact that the community's river, which is used heavily for recreational purposes, has turned into a filthy health hazard on account of the sewage.

"We cannot tolerate this sewage issue, it is dangerous to our health, children and community. We have this river for recreation for our children and now everything is all gone," said Grange.

Bartlett believes the blame for the discharge of the sewage should be placed at the feet of the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), which approved the construction of the problematic sewage plant.

While declining to comment on Bartlett's claim, NEPA's Corporate Communication Manager Natalie Fearon said the matter was being dealt with.

"I am not in a position to respond to his (Bartlett) comments, but what I can tell you is that the flow of sewage into the Spot Valley river has stopped," said Fearon. "We are cleaning up the area. We still advise residents to discontinue using water from the river until they are advised to do so."