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KINGSTON — Steps are being taken to clean up the site of last week's reported chemical contamination at the former Ausjam gold mine in Pennants, Clarendon.

According to Minister Housing, Environment and Water, Dr. Horace Chang, the effort has included the relocation of over seven tonnes of sodium cyanide, which was being stored in a container at the mine, formerly operated by the Australian firm, Ausjam Mining Limited, which was identified as the source of the leak.

Addressing journalists during a media briefing at the offices of the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), Cross Roads, St. Andrew, on Monday July 18, 2011, Dr, Chang explained that a multi-agency approach, headed by the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) NEPA, was undertaken to deal with the matter.

 This included contracting the services of an environmental science consultancy firm, C.L Environmental Company Limited, as well as the establishment of team of experts to undertake a series of activities to address the problem. The Stakeholders include the University of the West Indies (UWI) and civil and environmental engineers.

The Minister said they were mandated to cordon off and secure the area of contamination from unauthorized entry; erect signs advising of the danger therein and designating the area as restricted; arrest the leak; and remove the risk posed by the leaking container.    

“We have cordoned the area, made it secure, put up the appropriate signs and maintained a security guard in place to prevent anyone from entering the area,” the minister reported.

He assured residents of the area that there has been careful monitoring of developments to ensure their safety.

Dr. Chang also advised that the principals of Ausjam are currently in Jamaica and are in discussions with NEPA and the Mines and Geology Division of the Ministry of Energy and Mining, regarding their input in cleaning up the site. He also assured that NEPA will monitor all of the activities being undertaken.

Chief Executive Officer of NEPA, Peter Knight, said that the special team is working “feverishly” to complete its work by Friday July 22.

In thanking all of the stakeholders involved, Member of Parliament for North Central Clarendon and Labour and Social Security Minister, Hon. Pearnel Charles, assured that no one was endangered by the leak. Pennants is a part of his constituency.

 

By DOUGLAS McINTOSH, JIS Reporter