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ODPEM remains vigilant after noxious fumes scare

Published:Saturday | June 30, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer

ONLY THE faintest of burning sensations to the nostrils were evident when The Gleaner team roved through the areas which were affected by mysterious fumes, but the team did not ease up on the search for its cause or origin.

But the executive director of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management, Ronald Jackson, told The Gleaner yesterday that notwithstanding what appeared to be a cessation of the fumes, the investigative team would not drop its guard.

"The team has mounted a sea-and-land search," he said. "We are tracking several leads. We have a team out on the ocean with the Marine Police and they are checking ships that may have been in the port," he said.

Jackson told The Gleaner that another team on the ground was looking for a "particular" location on which chlorine had been extensively used sometime ago. "We are in the field still checking all the possibilities … if you have people experiencing these systems, one of the things you would want to do is find out their origin so you can deal with it," he added.

Asserting that the action that was being undertaken was standard protocol, Jackson said there were no reports of any new illnesses from persons who were exposed to the fumes.

Director of emergency disaster management and Special Services in the Ministry of Health, Dr Marion Bullock DuCasse, said five persons reportedly sought medical treatment after coming in contact with the fumes.

Jackson told The Gleaner that plans for a rushed evacuation programme were well in place if the situation warranted. "It would demand immediate attention as this is not like a hurricane when there was the benefit of advance notice," he said. "You just have to try and identify the likely areas and then move to evacuate persons out of affected areas, then worry about where we hold people."