On Tuesday June 4th, management of the Water and Sewage Company Inc. (WASCO) announced the continuity of investigations into an oil-based substance which was deposited into the sludge pit at the Beausejour Treatment Facility in Gros Islet. A fish kill occurred on Monday May 26th as a result of this oil-based spill.
The oil-spill was at first believed to have been perpetrated by a careless or mischievous individual, and a probe was initiated to identify the company or trucker who might have been responsible. However the investigation, which was carried out on May 27th by the Environmental Health Division, revealed findings which were contrary to original speculation. It was determined that a significant amount of oil was emerging from WASCO’s Sewage Treatment Plant.
Vegetation and part of the ravine near the Darren Sammy Cricket Ground were also affected by the oil spill. WASCO is working with the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) and the Oil Spill Committee at present, to immediately remedy the oil spill and to reverse as much as possible its consequences to the surrounding areas. The management of WASCO, having a full understanding of implications of oil spills, had already taken up responsibility for the clean-up as soon as the spill was recognized.
NEMO continues to urge users of the Sewage Treatment Plant to practice greater care in the use of the facility, and to seek the assistance of the Solid Waste Management Authority and the Environmental Health Division in case the need for guidance arises. WASCO has also stated that certain measures will be taken to avoid a repeat of this incident.
Although the treatment facility is operated solely by WASCO’s technicians, there are five companies which use the treatment facility. These companies haul waste material from both commercial and residential houses and transport it to the treatment facility for treatment and disposal. The commercial houses consist of hotels, out of which one of them is suspected for providing the oil-based material to be deposited at the treatment plant. According to Raphael Eudovique, Senior Operations Manager at WASCO, “Those who use our facility are fully aware that oil or any other harmful substances are not allowed at our facility.” Eudovique stated that WASCO will be taking measures to ensure that all protocols are followed from now on, and that persons who breach the protocols will be held liable for all damages incurred.
A similar incident of an oil spill did however occur in April of 2018 in the same vicinity near the WASCO Treatment Plant. Initial investigations into the matter had revealed that WASCO was not responsible for the spill as no trace of oil was found at the treatment facility at the time. An individual or company was suspected to have dumped the oil-based substance in the area. Cherry Ann Gaillard-Williams, Communication and Marketing Officer at WASCO, had indicated in regards to the 2018 oil spill that “We don’t know how it got there; somebody must have dumped it in one of the drains. You never know. We can only speculate on that but…we were not connected to that [The oil in the clogged drain]”.
However, WASCO in consideration of all possibilities, has reinforced stringent measures to ensure proper monitoring and surveillance of the facility. This is in an effort to ensure that persons who utilize the sewage facility adhere to the strictest safety regulations at all times and to ensure that such a situation never reoccurs.