Shrimp drying causes high stink at Zeeburg

By Mandy Thompson

The drying of shrimp along the Zeeburg seawall has raised significant concerns among residents, and students and teachers in the area as the stench of the shrimp shells has become unbearable, preventing some residents from opening the doors of their homes.

Teachers and students of the Zeeburg Secondary School expressed their concerns to this newspaper on Friday, amid the odour of the dried shrimp, which they said continues to affect their well-being and comfort.

The drain in which shrimp shells are dumped

According to residents and persons from the nearby school, the problem has been occurring for as long as they can remember and dates back as far as 2000. They stated that despite numerous reports to the Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), nothing has been done to curb the problem.

Stabroek News was informed by persons in the school that members of the NDC and EPA visited the area on Friday. However, when this newspaper visited the NDC office it was closed. The EPA could not be contacted either.

Speaking to Stabroek News on Friday, one of the teachers, who asked not to be named, lamented that the situation has caused teachers and students of the school to work in great discomfort. The teacher noted that because of the high stench and shrimp dust flying into the school they were forced to dismiss school early on Friday.

Another teacher said that on some days the stench has caused some students to become nauseated. An abundance of flies, attracted to the shrimp-drying operation also prevents teachers and students from eating their lunch in comfort. The teacher said that apart from being annoying, the amount of flies present in the school can result in the spread of diseases. The work and learning environment has become very uncomfortable and less productive due to the problem the teacher added. The problem becomes worse when it rains since the amount of flies increases as well as the unpleasant odour.

Men drying shrimp along the seawall at Zeeburg, West Coast Demerara. In photo at right is the Zeeburg Secondary School which is greatly affected by the stench and the flies that are attracted by it. (See story on page 18) (Photo by Anjuli Persaud)

Vendors in the school said they have to keep everything closed or covered because of the flies. They said that they have to be constantly sanitizing the counter surfaces of the canteen to prevent the flies from loitering on the food items.

One resident of the area, who gave his name as Dennis, said he cannot open the doors of his home because of the unpleasant odour. Dennis said the seawall, which used to be a place where persons took afternoon strolls, is no longer conducive to that activity. “It’s not practical to go to the seawall for a walk cause you would have to hold your nose as you walk,” he said.

According to Dennis, the stench is not only a result of the dried shrimps, but the dumping of fish along the seawalls. He added that attempts by persons in the community to talk to the people drying the shrimps have been fruitless. “If you tell the people dem anything, dem does become angry,” he said.

The man recalled one instance where he went with his camera to take pictures of some persons dumping shrimp shells in a nearby trench, but was ordered by the perpetrators to desist. Dennis, who operates a small shop in the area, said that he has to clean his shop at least three times before midday.

When Stabroek News visited the area yesterday, the high stench and the large amount of flies were evident in the nearby school and homes. There was also a large amount of shrimp shells in the nearby drainage trench.

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