The West Indies Alumina Company, Windalco says it is not accepting responsibility for the fish kill in the Rio Cobre on Monday, August 2. The National Environment and Planning Agency, NEPA on Tuesday, August 3, linked the fish kill to the presence of effluence from the Windalco Plant in the Rio Cobre.
The company says there was a spill at its effluent pond on Sunday, August 1, however, Windalco says ‘Based on our monitoring data and the preventative measures we employed, we are confident that the spillage did not have any deleterious impact on the environment.’
The statement comes after the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) issued an enforcement notice to Windalco, on Wednesday, August 4, amid the fish kill. The notice serves to instruct Windalco on the measures it should put in place to address the matter within 24 hours.
The Bauxite company indicates that it will take steps to restore normalcy which includes removing the dead fish. When contacted for clarity on their decision to not accept liability for the fish kill, a representative from Windalco says there will be no further comment as the statement is self-explanatory and investigations are ongoing.
The fish kill has left stakeholders calling for decisive action from NEPA, the agency tasked with protecting the environment.
In the meantime, Environment Minister Pearnel Charles Jnr. says tougher penalties are coming for companies that operate at the expense of the environment. Member of Parliament for St. Catherine North Central, Natalie Neita, while touring the affected community says enough is not being done to address the issue which has devastated both lives and livelihoods.
Windalco and NEPA are currently before the court for another fish kill in 2019 the matter is to be mentioned again in the St.Catherine parish court in October.
More in this CVM Live story from Christeen Forbes: