By MP Jason Hayward
Over the last two weeks, I have attended three separate community meetings organized by residents who have concerns regarding their health and safety and the pollution emanating from BELCO’s power station.
The lack of urgency expressed by the company is alarming. Belco must take immediate action in order to mitigate the conditions currently faced by surrounding residents. The individuals who have been directly affected by the pollution from the smokestacks should be compensated expeditiously.
People in the surrounding neighbourhoods have expressed their concern for many months and by all accounts, BELCO’s lack of action to rectify the problem has been most alarming. This weekend two mothers of infant children expressed fear and are considering leaving their neighbourhoods because they are concerned with the potential health risks on their children.
There is more at stake here than a compromised ‘aesthetic’.Property has been damaged, health is being possibly compromised and there is overall discomfort as a result of the emissions. Residents have expressed a variety of health problems which they believe are related to the fumes, which should not be ignored.
After hearing the concerns of the residents, the following is the minimum action that can be taken to mitigate the issues they are currently facing:
• Admittance that the new plant and stack is a major part of the problem;
• An independent assessment of their drinking water and air quality;
• The company to pay for water filters ;
• Adequate outreach from BELCO;
• Property restoration (car, homes, roofs, outside future) paid for by BELCO; and
• Revised policy regarding assistance to neighbourhoods affected that fall outside of their cut-off area.
The company needs to make changes to its operations that will benefit their neighbours. This is a problem that can have long- term health implications for people in our community and it is the responsibility of the company to ensure the safety of all stakeholders, workers, and surrounding residents included.