Sewage disposal companies must have authorisation to operate – EPA

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is calling on all sewage disposal companies to apply for environmental authorisation before moving forward with such operations, after allegations of improper dumping were levelled against Cevon’s Waste Management Inc. and Countrywide Disposal Services.

These calls were made in a press release, in which the EPA also stated that it was called in to investigate allegations of dumping of sewage in the Princes Street Canal in Georgetown and in Bartica following complaints made to the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment.

The EPA stated that on investigation of the Princes Street Canal, it found claims of dumping at this area to be unsubstantiated. The agency stated that the investigation, which was conducted last week revealed no evidence of dumping/disposal of sewage being carried out in the area. It also stated that its observation was reinforced by a pump attendant who resides in proximity to the canal, who further informed the environmental officers that the closest Canal to the Princes Street area that leads to the Demerara River was the Sussex Street Canal.

Acting on this information, the EPA stated, its environmental officers inspected the Sussex Street Canal, and at the time of the inspection mal-odour was emanating from the Canal. Upon closer examination of the area, environmental officers found that persons would usually dump garbage and animal parts such as offal into the canal, which caused the odour nuisance. Conversations with a nearby security guard revealed confirmed observations that no dumping of sewage had occurred in the canal.

In order to conclude investigations, officers visited the Kingston Outfall, where, at no time did any of its environmental officers observe trucks from Cevon’s Waste Manage-ment Inc in the area. The release stated that the EPA contacted the waste disposal company and was told by its manager that all dumping was done into the Kingston Outfall.

As it relates to the Bartica dumping, the EPA stated that joint investigations with the overseer of the Bartica Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) revealed sewage had indeed been dumped into a densely vegetated area along the Bartica/Potaro Road, Region 7 by Countrywide Disposal Services.

The release stated that the sewage had been dumped about six metres inwards, west of the Bartica/Potaro Road and south of the small road, and that a slight mal-odour was emanating from the area. Some amount of sewage was allegedly visible.

The NGO stated that the overseer claimed that on the alleged date of the dumping, sewage could be seen overflowing to the Bartica/Potaro Road, and that Countrywide Disposal Services informed the NDC, and other officials who were present at the scene, that the truck had gotten stuck on its way to discard its cargo in Georgetown, and that some of the sewage had to be discharged in order to dislodge the truck.

In the light of these instances the EPA is urging both waste disposal services to obtain environmental authorisation for their operations. The EPA indicated that Countrywide Disposal Services had submitted an application for environmental authorisation, and that though the site proposed has been inspected, further steps to process the application cannot be taken until outstanding documents are submitted.

Meanwhile, Countrywide Disposal Services has not resumed operations in Bartica as it is still awaiting word from the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) as it relates to an appropriate dumping site.

However, regional officials say this responsibility rests with the disposal company.

A representative from the RDC stated that before Countrywide Disposal Services approached the RDC proposing this service, the people of Bartica were faring quite well utilising alternative means of getting rid of such waste. He further stated that though this service was welcomed by residents, “Bartica will not cease to function if it is no longer offered, we were doing well before and we will continue to do well regardless of its institution.”
He further stated that since the undertaking is in the best interest of the company, Countrywide Disposal Services should be taking the initiative to identify suitable dumping locations. He added that the company was advised to confer with the EPA to assist in the selection of a suitable area.
Countrywide Disposal Services argues that the EPA has no such plans for rural communities and was thus unable to render assistance, an allegation that the EPA denies.

According to organszation’s executive director, the EPA would have conducted research and investigations, whose findings were used to compile a list of several sites that would be suitable for this sort of activity, and though he was unable to say for certain, he said that he was quite certain that Bartica was addressed.

Countrywide Disposal Services was forced to discontinue operations in Bartica after the Bartica Develop-ment Action Group (BDGA) accused it of dumping the faeces a few feet off the Bartica/Potaro Road, in the centre of a foot path used by Bartica Hospital staff to dispose of various waste materials, in front of the Bartica Airstrip and into a creek.

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