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Back to old spot

Maria Bradshaw

Back to old spot

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IT IS BACK to Country Road, St Michael, for the Tropical Laundries dry cleaning business, the suspected source of health problems at Louis Lynch Secondary which closed five years ago.Yesterday, owner Jeffrey Hoyte confirmed to the SUNDAY SUN that he had abandoned plans to open the laundry in densely populated Spooners Hill, St Michael, and he had returned to the laundry’s original location.He said that construction of the building had already begun and the laundry, which was destroyed by fire in 2008, was due to reopen early next year.Asked why he had returned to Country Road, Hoyte said “it made more sense” and that there was “nothing unusual” about returning to the place where he operated the laundry for 15 years before the fire.He also confirmed that it would take close to $10 million to reopen the business.Tropical Laundries became the focus of investigations into an environmental health problem, which plagued the nearby Louis Lynch Secondary School for years before it was eventually closed in 2005 after several students and teachers complained of repeatedly falling ill. The school building, located a stone’s throw away from the laundry, remains closed up to this day.Scientists probeScientists from the University of the West Indies, hired by the Ministry of Education found traces of the cancer-causing chemical PERC, which is widely used in laundries at the school. But while finding that Tropical Laundries could have been “a possible source of PERC”, the scientists were never able to directly link the chemical found at the school to Tropical Laundries since other businesses in the area were also using the chemical.Hoyte also commissioned an independent investigation by scientists from Britain and they found that the laundry was not responsible for the environmental health problem at the school.Following the fire which destroyed the laundry and left 85 people on the breadline, Hoyte attempted to reopen at a warehouse at Spooners Hill, St Michael. This plan however met with strong resistance from residents even though once again, he had an extensive study done by Stantec Consulting Caribbean Ltd., which said the residents had nothing to fear since the laundry would be using a state-of-the-art fourth generation machine with no external vent, which would reduce residual perc in the machine cycle at the end of the dry cycle.Several residents living in and around Country Road reported during the days of the controversy surrounding the laundry that they had never had any problems with its operations and that they had never suffered any health problems which could be linked to the laundry. Hoyte said his son, Christopher Hoyte, would continue to manage the laundry when it reopened, since he was “the best in the business” and that the laundry would “hopefully set an example in what a laundry should be”.