Head of the University of Technology’s School of Public Health, Professor Winston Davidson, says Windalco’s effluent spillage into the Rio Cobre on Sunday is a major public health threat requiring urgent attention.
Professor Davidson says he’s concerned with the source of the contamination and whether heavy metals were present in the trade effluent which he says must be investigated as a matter of emergency.
According to the Public Health expert, the Windalco bauxite plant effluent overflow on Sunday cannot be taken lightly as it poses a health risk to many. He says if heavy metals are present in the effluent which overflowed into several waterways in St Catherine including the Rio Cobre, it requires a thorough investigation.
On Wednesday, the National Water Commission, NWC told our news centre it had shut down its Spanish Town treatment plant after it detected higher than normal alkaline levels in the Rio Cobre.
The treatment plant which produces some 3.5-million gallons of water, supplies areas such as Hampton Green, Nugent Street, Brunswick Avenue and other sections of Spanish Town.
Professor Davidson says the NWC must go further by visiting the plant where the spillage occurred and verify that the proper systems are in place to prevent a repeat.
The Professor says even if residents haven’t directly consumed the polluted water, they may still be exposed to the toxic elements through the plants they grow and eat.
He says overtime exposure to toxic metals can lead to birth defects, abortions and cancers among other diseases.
Calls to the Communications Manager of the NWC Mr Charles Buchanan went unanswered this afternoon. Our news centre was later told he was in a meeting.