IT MATTERS TO MARIA: Dust trap
THE Griffith family of Malton Road, Checker Hall, St Lucy, has issued another invitation to the management of the Arawak Cement Plant to live in one of five homes for a week to experience what they go through on a daily basis.
This latest appeal was sent to a senior official on February 4, after the district was wrapped in dust on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, even though the plant was closed.
As a result the Griffith siblings, who own the land and have five houses in the district, were unable to get any relief from the fugitive dust on those two days.
A frustrated Ranley Griffith wrote the following to the company: “Further to our discussion earlier today, I have attached some pictures of the conditions we face at Malton Road residence so that you can see for yourself what it is that we go through on a regular basis. I would like to make you or any of the TCL senior management from the CEO to your board of directors and the chairman the same offer that I have continually made to the management at Arawak Cement Ltd. i.e. I am offering any of you to come and live in my house for one week free of cost to experience what we go through.”
Griffith told the WEEKEND NATION, however, that he did not expect a response from the company, neither did he expect them to take up on this offer, which he had made on several previous occasions.
“While many Barbadians were enjoying their Christmas it was raining dust out here,” Ranley said.
His older brother, Birchmore, who lives the closest to the plant, was forced to cancel a get-together which he planned at his home for that day, because of the unwelcome guest.
Ranley acknowledged that the cement plant provided a cleaning service once a week for the houses but said it was not helping the situation because minutes after the cleaners finished, the dust started to settle again.
Walking through the house, he rubbed his finger along ornaments, picture frames, a television set – all covered with dust – even though a few short hours before his wife had cleaned the items. This, he said, had become unbearable because his wife usually worked from home and had clients over.
Griffith, who has publicly complained about this situation on many occasions, recalled that he wrote to the Environmental Protection Department in 2009 and copied the correspondence to then Minister of Environment Denis Kellman, who is also his constituency representative.
He pointed out that a group from the ministry, including Kellman, toured the area one day but he was not at home.
“My daughter brought Kellman and all the people to our house to see the dust. Subsequent to that I never heard a thing.”
The clan, who now consist of two brothers, their sister and their individual families, are so frustrated that they have even asked Arawak to buy out their homes which were built by their father, now deceased, who wanted the entire family to be together on family-owned land.
Birchmore, on the other hand, is also questioning the legal system since he lost a lawsuit which he brought against the Arawak Cement Plant in 1986, two years after the company started its operations.
While the judge found that there was an escape of dust from the company onto his house, he ruled that Birchmore had failed to prove the incidence of escape and dissemination.
Ranley is also questioning how the cement plant could get “an environmental pass every year”.
Yesterday, in response to the environmental concerns from the family, the Arawak Cement Plant issued the same statement which they have given to this newspaper since we first reported on the situation back in 2009. It said: “We continue to share the concern of the Griffth family and assure that the matter is receiving urgent attention at the highest level from our parent company. Meanwhile, we can report that Arawak is in the process of implementing a full dust control plan, which over time will significantly reduce emisions.”