By Serena Grant
KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) – Approximately – 1, 200 residents of ten communities surrounding the Jiuquan Iron and Steel Company (JISCO)/Alpart alumina refinery in St Elizabeth, who have been affected by dust nuisance from the plant’s mud lake, will receive close to $40 million in compensation, minister without Portfolio in the ministry of economic growth and job creation Daryl Vaz, disclosure at a press conference at the refinery’s plant in Nain on Thursday, February 13.
The communities are Upper and Lower Warminster, Myersville, Alvalley, Brinkley, North Hampton, Genious, Bounevista Housing Scheme, Austin and Foley, minister Vaz said and that the residents are being compensated for dust events, which occurred in December 2019 and early January.
“The management of JISCO/Alpart agreed to a total settlement for four days compensation to offset the loss of agricultural produce, damage to homes and medical complications. It will be paid, starting February 14 and will be done in two phases, which means the 10 communities named … some will get on February 14. Some communities may get part payment, and if that is the case, they will get the balance or the remaining compensation for the four days by the end of February and that is a commitment that has been made by JISCO based on our discussions and negotiations,” minister Vaz noted.
He said that investigations in relation to dust events, which occurred in early January, were ongoing; attributed the increase in dust affecting the area to, among other things, the lack of rainfall, noting that the last shower of rain in that section of the island was on December 10, of last year.
“We also have a problem with the stockpile of raw materials, which is identified as a source of dust and JISCO has agreed to have that matter addressed immediately. They will get back to me in relation to how they intend to handle that,” he said.
JISCO/ Alpart will be investing over US$1 million in finding solutions to curtail the dust from the mud lake, which encompasses 650 acres of land.
Also participating in the press conference were member of parliament of Southeast St Elizabeth, Franklin Witter; Councillor from the Meyersville Division, Layton Smith, as well as representatives from the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), the Southern Regional Health Authority (SRHA) and members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).
Following the press conference, minister Vaz visited the neighbouring community of Myersville to meet with the residents.