No health risks

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Tennyson Springer
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Tennyson Springer

There is no imminent health risks to residents of Oldbury in St. Philip.

That’s the findings of officers from the Government’s Environmental Health Department, who assessed the circumstances surrounding dumped materials on lands owned by Asha (Ram) Merchandani.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Tennyson Springer, told Barbados TODAY this afternoon that health inspectors had assessed the area for health hazards such as mosquitoes and rodents, but found no imminent health risks to persons in the community.

However, Springer informed this newspaper that the EHD would continue to monitor the site and its environs for pests. The permanent secretary suggested, though, that as far as the removal of material from the physical site was concerned, that fell under the ambit of the Environmental Protection Department.

Just last Tuesday, Barbados TODAY broke the story that Government’s Environmental Health Department had launched an investigation into complaints of a newly-created dump site on lands owned by Merchandani opposite her Casa Grande Hotel at Oldbury, St. Philip.

A visit to the site by a team from this paper revealed mounds of discarded tiles, scrap metal and other waste materials which emitted a heavy stench of smoke. Some of the material had already been compacted in the area of a well and what appeared to be a water course. At the time, a nearby tractor crawler stood idle. A couple hundred metres away along the same Oldbury stretch of road, another pile of tiles and other rubble could be seen next to a pond. At least one resident told this newspaper that material taken from a recent fire at warehouses in the area had been spread across the area, within metres of houses.

“I personally identified burnt pieces of wood, lamps, melted comforters, burnt electric fans and motors, ring beams, concrete, tons of oil lamp bases and endless tiles,” said the resident, who asked not to be identified. He also reported seeing five truck loads of the debris being dumped in an area that once was a water course.

The homeowner questioned whether there could have been any “dangerous” or combustible refuse that could end up buried and compacted at the site. He was of the view that the discarded items should have been taken to the landfill at Mangrove Pond, St. Thomas.

When contacted, Merchandani said she was not dumping anything, but had given contractors work to do. “I will call up the contractors right away and ask them what … they are doing,” she promised. (EJ)

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