(PRESS RELEASE VIA SNO) – The Environmental Health Department and the St. Lucia Solid Waste Management Authority are working collaboratively to reduce the impact of the indiscriminate dumping of solid waste on the environment and the health of nation.
The improper disposal of solid waste can lead to severe health outcomes by creating the environment for the proliferation of vectors such as rats and mosquitoes.
At a meeting with the Ministry of Health and Wellness and the Solid Waste Management Authority, the Assistant Chief Environmental Health Officer, Parker Ragnanan stressed that the proper management of solid waste will both reduce the breeding sights for vectors as well as improve the aesthetics of the island. He referenced the chronic issue of derelict vehicles littering the island’s road as a major area of concern.
“And, therefore we are looking at a common approach towards removing these vehicles and ensure that they are adequately managed. We also realize that these vehicles pose a challenge in terms of harborage. They collect water and we find vectors are being housed and there is a proliferation of vectors as a result of the harborage that is being created by these vehicles.”
The meeting put forward a number of suggested areas of collaboration to address the many issues associated with the indiscriminate disposal of solid waste. Among the measures outlined are source reduction techniques through increase cleanup campaigns by partnering with Communities Island wide.
“We are also looking at mechanisms in terms of sensitization, public awareness and education. It is something that is ongoing at the ministry. We’ve done it with schools, we’re done it with mothers and fathers groups, we’ve done it with sporting groups. We need to continue our public education campaign. We are also going to look at greater use of the media in terms of sending out messages.”
Justin Sealy, General Manger at the St. Lucia Solid Waste Management Authority said the lack of adherence by individuals to the garbage collection schedules forms a major component of the solid waste problem.
“Persons end up putting garbage after the truck has passed and don’t put it out properly and gets in the water ways and becomes a nuisance. So we’re asking people to be better at their disposal practices.”
Sealy highlighted the issue of some truckers hired to dispose garbage at the landfill being among the major contributors to the solid waste problem as they at times dispose of this garbage indiscriminately.
“The person who does the illegal dumping actually does it close to the house of the person who hires them to do it, so it actually comes back to be a problem to you as well.”
Under the Waste Management Act, No. 8 of 2004, any person who commits an offence under this act or any regulations made under it for which no penalty is specified, shall be liable on the first conviction to a fine not exceeding $75,000 or imprisonment for not more than one year.
“And people could be royally inconvenienced for inconveniencing other people. So we urge our people to use common sense and respect your neighbours as well as yourself and do things right and everybody will be able to live bitter together in the small space that we have.”
The meeting was chaired by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Felix St. Hill.