PRIME MINISTER MOTTLEY PROBES ARAWAK CEMENT PLANT ISSUE FROM VIRAL VIDEO

Yesterday afternoon Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley accompanied by St Lucy representative in the last Parliament, Peter Phillips, and General Secretary of the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU), Toni Moore, visited residents in the areas surrounding the Arawak Cement Plant. They also held discussions with the management of the plant.

It was acknowledged that the difficulties with the dust have been ongoing for many years and have been the subject of contention. The Prime Minister indicated that the last time a comprehensive study was done on the environmental conditions at the plant was in 2007 and that was completed and submitted in 2009. Regrettably it does not appear that the contents of that study were ever fully shared with the residents.

It was acknowledged that the difficulties with the dust have been ongoing for many years and have been the subject of contention. The Prime Minister indicated that the last time a comprehensive study was done on the environmental conditions at the plant was in 2007 and that was completed and submitted in 2009. Regrettably it does not appear that the contents of that study were ever fully shared with the residents.

While it was clear that the company had been making an attempt to improve the situation with the transition to the use of filter bags in 2018 that were to have a useful life of five years, the problems recurred in less than three years

The plans to procure new filter bags have been affected by the disruptions in the global supply chain. The orders made in August last year only arrived late December. The difficulty now is that the specialized labour needed to install these filter bags is not due to arrive until the end of January. In addition, management at the plant indicated that they would also be installing a specialized environmental monitoring system to allow for continuous monitoring of the dust and all gases emanating from the plant.

Prime Minister Mottley indicated that they should seek to bring forward the time for the persons arriving to install the bags, if possible, before the February 1 schedule. She also committed to commissioning a further independent study to confirm that they were no harmful consequences arising from the operations at St. Lucy.  This, she said, was essential for the peace of mind of  the residents, workers and management of Arawak.

Prime Minister Mottley indicated that they should seek to bring forward the time for the persons arriving to install the bags, if possible, before the February 1 schedule. She also committed to commissioning a further independent study to confirm that they were no harmful consequences arising from the operations at St. Lucy. This, she said, was essential for the peace of mind of the residents, workers and management of Arawak.

She indicated that her Government would have discussions with PAHO to facilitate the independent study, just as had happened regarding the investigation of environmental challenges at Lower Estate, St Michael.

A previously planned meeting will take place, which should address these matters and the other concerns of the residents, including the urgent need for continuous watering and cleaning of the surrounding areas, the repairs needed to the roof of the jetty to mitigate the dust and a mechanism for continuous communication with residents.

The Minister of Environment and the Attorney General will accompany Phillips, the Barbados Labour Party candidate for St. Lucy, to the meeting this afternoon with the management of the plant and the representatives of the residents.

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