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The Ministry of Health and Environment will, during this fiscal year, continue discussions for the development of national programmes to address the sound environmental management of materials considered as hazardous.
Minister Rudyard Spencer, in his contribution to the Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives yesterday (June 3), said that talks are in progress for the development of a financially sustainable programme to address the management of Used Lead Acid Batteries (ULAB), which are classified as hazardous wastes.
“There have been several cases of lead poisonings in Jamaica, particularly of children below the age of 12 years, due to exposure to lead and lead contaminated soils from the smelting of lead plates derived from used lead acid batteries. The health effects of lead poisoning, particularly in children, are severe, and in some instances, can be long-term and irreversible,” Mr. Spencer told the House.
He informed that the ULAB programme is being developed in collaboration with private sector entities involved in the distribution/retailing of lead acid batteries. Elements of the programme will include the promulgation of legislation as well as the institution of economic instruments to facilitate the recovery of ULAB from the domestic market.
Discussions are also continuing with the major mobile phone distributors and service providers on the development of a national programme for the environmental management of used and end-of-life mobile phones.
Mr. Spencer explained that “several components of the phones, including the batteries, are categorized as hazardous materials and as such, measures need to be instituted at the national and local levels to recover these instruments and the accessories (including their batteries), once they are no longer used.”
He said that the Ministry has also begun discussions with public and private sector stakeholders on the development of strategies to manage the most critical categories of electrical and electronic wastes, including end-of-life computers and computer accessories.