... Concerned mother believes school children and others at risk
Montego Bay, St James - A concerned mother and vice president of the parent teachers associations at the Green Pond Primary and Green Pond High School has identified what she believes to be the hazardous material, asbestos, at a demolished house across the road from the institutions.
Moya Lewis, who has three children - each attending the primary school, the infant department and the high school - is very concerned that there appears to be an absence of urgency from the St James Health Department in responding to her report.
"When I filed my complaint I realised that each matter is dealt with in the order that they were reported," she told Observer West.
"This would mean weeks before any tests were carried out. I could not be comfortable with that as asbestos is a very dangerous substance that can cause lung cancer, mesothelioma and other ailments. There is no cure for these diseases. I have (children) that attend (school) ... There are vendors, pedestrians and residents ... I just could not stay silent about this." she said.
Lewis claims that she is able to identify asbestos because of a previous experience which involved her uncle giving her building material.
"He provided me with some material. After I took (it) home he told me that it was asbestos. Watching cable one day I saw an infomercial that was asking persons who have been exposed to asbestos to contact a number to get monetary support and they described the ailments it can cause. I immediately dug a hole in my backyard and buried it," she said.
Manager for the Pollution Prevention branch at NEPA Kerine Senior was unaware of the issue, when contacted by Observer West. "We do not have such a case on file for the demolition of an old house in Green Pond St James." she said
Medical Officer for the St James Health Department Diane Daley says that lab tests would have to be carried out before there could be official confirmation that the material is in fact asbestos.
"The person who is concerned has to file a complaint at the St James Health Department so that an investigation can be carried out." she explained.
When Daley was asked whether reports of asbestos shouldn't be treated as an emergency requiring immediate investigation, she said: "Not as big an emergency as persons may think. For the matter to become an emergency it would have to mean that after carrying out tests on individuals, it was found that the material was causing persons to become ill as we speak. I
cannot speak much on the matter because I do not have the relevant information before me at this time."