NEPA absolves German Ship Repair Ja of responsibility in fish kill
JAMAICA’S lead environmental protection agency on Tuesday absolved German Ship Repair Jamaica Limited of responsibility for the recent fish kill at Harbour View, St Andrew, saying that an enforcement action it had taken against the company under the Natural Resources Conservation Authority (NRCA) Act was for “non-compliance with terms and conditions of the environmental permit” issued to the company in 2019.
“The management of German Ship Repair Jamaica Limited has begun to comply and to satisfy the requirements of the submission of documents for review,” National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) said in a news release.
The massive fish kill occurred on Saturday, December 9, 2023 and was attributed to a build-up of oxygen-depleting algae.
Anthony McKenzie, director of environmental management and conservation at NEPA, had told the Jamaica Observer that the fish in that area died due to a lack of oxygen.
“It is not an uncommon occurrence, especially in that area. We started our investigations yesterday [December 9], and based on our findings so far it is pointing to the cause of the fish kill being a red tide that is presently occurring in the harbour. What that means is that we have oxygen depletion resulting in the death of the fish,” he said. “We are, however, still investigating, and our investigations will involve NEPA, the National Fisheries Authority, and the veterinary services commission,” he said.
In its release on Tuesday, NEPA also reported that an enforcement notice was served on the president of the National Water Commission (NWC) on Monday, December 11, 2023 in relation to the fish kill at Harbour Head.
The notice requires the NWC to:
1. Immediately cease the discharge of improperly treated sewage to the environment;
2. Repair/replace the malfunctioning pump at the lift station within three days of the December 11 notice;
3. Install a redundancy pump to minimise the possibility of any discharge;
4. Install/implement an early warning system and submit details within 30 days of the effective date of the notice, and monthly reports on the results of this system should be submitted to the agency;
5. Submit a maintenance schedule for the entire system within seven days of the date of the notice.
“The NWC has already complied with items 1 and 2 of the requirements,” said NEPA, which also gave an update on the oil spill in the Rio Cobre in St Catherine.
According to NEPA, “the oil spill emitted from the Jamaica Beverage[s] plant, owned and operated by Trade Winds Citrus Limited, is now contained. Rehabilitation of the storm drains and other impacted areas of the Rio Cobre is continuing”.
NEPA also reported that the directors of Trade Winds Citrus Limited have been served with an enforcement notice under the NRCA Act and a summons to appear in court under the Wild Life Protection Act.