Following the protest by residence against a chemical spill that killed hundreds of fish in the Rio Cobre river. Matthew Samuda the Environment Minister threatens to hit bauxite mining company Windalco with financial penalties.
The Government has gathered a multi agency working group to review the state of the pollution into the Rio Cobre and to study development along the river.
Samuda says that Prime Minister Andrew Holness gave instructions for the working group to meet.
Considering the damage the oil spill made, Samuda says one most likely solution is to draw-down on the environmental performance bond from Windalco that the Government currently holds through the Natural Resources Conservation Authority (NRCA).
“I want to assure the Jamaican public that the Government holds this environmental bond, which at the current exchange rate is $115 million, so we will be able to draw down a significant sum to ensure that the cost is felt by the company,” statement from Samuda as he toured sections of the Bog Walk Gorge that have been affected by Saturday’s chemical spill from the Windaco bauxite plant.
Samuda says that in the next legislative cycle, the government will table amendments to the NRCA and Wildlife Protection acts to highly increase the fines for egregious environmental breaches.
For Windalco to continue operating, the bauxite producer would have to restore the environmental performance bond.
The company Windalco says they will issue a statement very soon.
Richard Nelson, senior manager of the environmental management subdivision of the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), said that PH tests conducted by his team have revealed levels as high as 11.3 since the spill.
Nelson says the standard PH level of the Rio Cobre ranges between 7.3 and 8, Acquatic life can only survive there at a PH level of 9.