Respected community activist Hopeton Henry wants the authorities to relocate Cotton Piece district, which is located across from the main entrance to the West Indies Alumina Company (WINDALCO) in Ewarton, St Catherine.
He also claimed that WINDALCO is yet to act on a ‘simple’ recommendation for it to plant trees in the Cotton Piece area to minimize the effect air pollution has been having on the residents.
The recommendation, Henry said, was made by the Jamaica Bauxite Institute|WINDALCO Joint Council.
The Council, in which Henry has membership, was established to facilitate dialogue between the bauxite|alumina company and communities surrounding its plant.
“Cotton Piece should really have been relocated,” Henry said during a public meeting on November 7 at Charlemont Open Bible Church in Linstead, St Catherine.
A meeting is also being scheduled for the Cotton Piece community; this as a group of residents garners support to sue WINDALCO for allegedly damaging their livelihood and health with its effluent.
Henry further told the meeting: “From the Jamaica Bauxite Institute|WINDALCO Joint Council, we suggested that they (WINDALCO) do a buffer-zone of just trees, but it has fallen on deaf ears. Between the area of the [WINDALCO] plant, up to the Cotton Piece side, just saturate the area with forested areas to minimize some of the effects. That is something that is fairly simple, but the company is not responding.”
Henry noted that Cotton Piece district is on the front-line of the pollution.
“There are instances where there is problem at the [WINDALCO] power house and the [waste] goes up in the air, and it affects the clothes that the people have on the line; it affects their furniture and so on. There are times when you go into their houses and they will collect cheese pans filled with alumina dust,” Henry added.
He however noted that, in terms of social benefits, WINDALCO usually gives more to Cotton Piece than other communities.
“In the operation of WINDALCO, much more social compensation is given to the people of Cotton Piece,” he added. “So, if it is Labour Day project, Cotton Piece will probably get three times the amount that other communities would get. If it is back-to-school stuff, they would triple or double the amount of benefits that Cotton Piece would get.”
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