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JISCO to meet with community today

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SANTA CRUZ, St Elizabeth — Bauxite/alumina producers JISCO Alpart are to host a meeting with community leaders, political, and stakeholder representatives today to discuss ongoing problems relating to water distribution and dust pollution.

Communications manager at JISCO Alpart Julian Keane told the Jamaica Observer that the meeting is set for 11:00 am at the JISCO Alpart Sports Club in Nain.

There has been growing dissatisfaction among residents about the negative effects of dust pollution, as well as what they say is the inadequate distribution of water to communities close to the plant.

The Essex Valley water scheme — first launched in 2001 as a partnership between the Government of Jamaica and Alpart to provide piped water from the National Water Commission to residents in communities closest to the plant — is now said to be nearing completion of its first phase.

However, local anger has been spurred by reports that those residents will be bypassed in the first phase, with water being taken to the fast-growing town of Junction instead.

Residents closest to the Alpart refinery point out that the water scheme was initially undertaken because their traditional rain water catchment and storage tanks were being contaminated by industrial pollutants from bauxite/alumina operations.

For decades, Alpart has delivered potable, trucked water to residents around the refinery and in mining communities. Commercial water truckers also access the Alpart filling station close to the refinery “at no cost”, Keane said yesterday.

According to Keane, Alpart provides communities with 300,000 gallons of water daily.

Last Friday, demonstrators — said to have been led by water truckers frustrated by delays in accessing water at the JISCO Alpart filling station — used their bodies to block sections of the rail line used by JISCO Alpart at Lititz, on the border of south Manchester and south-east St Elizabeth.

— Garfield Myers

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