PUBLIC HEALTH DANGER!
The Natural Resources Conservation Authority (NRCA) has served enforcement and warning notices on the developer of a housing complex at 5 Graham Heights, St Andrew, after consistent complaints from neighbours about an overflow of sewage water onto the public road that is posing a public health risk.
For more than a year residents, as well as pedestrians, have been subjected to the health risk, as well as the stench of the sewage water flowing from the Valhalla complex which comprises apartments and townhouses.
“Except for about two days over the just-ended holidays the water has been running from the complex onto the street, making life for us uncomfortable,” one resident told the Jamaica Observer on Monday.
Another resident noted that many people walking to work each morning are forced to jump over the stream of sewage water as it crosses the road from the complex and runs about 50 metres down to a culvert.
“It has become so bad now that just the other day I heard the people who walk up to work saying, ‘We reach in a s… house now’,” he said. “One guy slipped in it the other day and almost fell.”
“I am now suffering the inconvenience of heat as I have to be closing my door and windows because of the stench,” he added.
He also noted that the constant water flow has contributed to erosion of the heavily traversed road surface, leaving a large pothole that had to be patched recently as it was proving a hazard to motorists.
Attempts by the Observer over the weekend to contact the developer were unsuccessful.
A third resident said he had reported the problem to the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) in October 2022 and action was taken by the authority to have it corrected.
“It stopped for a while, but there were intermittent instances of the water flowing onto the street again. However, last December the problem worsened and another report was made to NEPA,” the resident said.
In response, NEPA said it sent an enforcement officer who again inspected the site and reported that, while the system was drawn by a cesspool truck about an hour before his arrival, an engineer would need to examine it and advise on a way forward that will facilitate ceasing the discharge permanently.
But with the problem persisting, NRCA, on December 22, 2023, served the notices, citing the developer for “improper operation of a treatment plant for the discharge of sewage effluent” and saying that “the discharge of improperly treated sewage effluent is an unacceptable risk to public health and natural resources in the area as it contains pathogens that may cause bacterial diseases upon contact by members of the public”.
The authority also instructed the developer to immediately cease all operations of the treatment plant for the discharge of sewage effluent; submit to the authority a remediation plan to adequately address the contamination of the area within seven days of the effective date of the notice; and undertake remediation of the area, based on the approved plan, to the satisfaction of the authority within the timelines approved in the remediation plan.
Additionally, NRCA told the developer to “apply for licences for the reconstruction/alteration of the sewage treatment plant as well as the licences for the operation of the plant and discharge of treated effluent into the environment within 30 days” of the date of the notice.