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Mottley, Phillips meet with St Lucy residents about cement plant

Mottley, Phillips meet with St Lucy residents about cement plant
Prime Minister Mia Mottley (third from left) and other officials outside the Arawak Cement Plant on Monday. (GP)

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Prime Minister Mia Mottley and other officials met with people living near the Arawak Cement Plant on Monday afternoon and held discussion with management to address the environmental issues stemming from its operation.

Dust is causing major disruption to those who live in the vicinity of the plant and Mottley said the results of the last environmental study, which was conducted in 2007 and submitted two years later, were not fully shared with residents.

The company was also 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, but 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 specialised labour needed to install these filter bags is not due to arrive until the end of January,” said a media release.

“In addition, management at the plant indicated that they would also be installing a specialised environmental monitoring system to allow for continuous monitoring of the dust and all gases emanating from the plant.

Mottley said they should try to advance the time for the arrival of people 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, which “was essential for the peace of mind of the residents, workers and management of Arawak”.

She indicated that her Government would have discussions with the Pan-American Health Organisation to facilitate the independent study, just as had happened with 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.

Mottley was accompanied by incumbent Peter Phillips and general secretary of the Barbados Workers’ Union. The Minister of Environment, the Attorney General and Phillips will attend today’s meeting with the management of the plant and the representatives of the residents. (PR/SAT)