Environmental Disasters And Knee-Jerk Reactions

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written by owen on 2012-Jul-02.

Have you noticed the haze that have been covering Kingston for the pass 2 months? Anybody know what that is? Its not rain, I am certain. Could be dust from Africa? Somebody needs to tell me!

So last week a hazardous substance was released somewhere near the Kingston habour causeing the closure of the portmore toll road. Not only is it bad that the force toll road had to be closed diverting hundreds probably thousands of cars to the alternate route on Mandela Highway - It was reported that 10 people from the toll plaza had reported sick and had to seek medical attention before the it was realised that something was wrong. Half the people in Portmore could have died and not one would have realised until it was time to go home. Its a good thing we can see hurricane from a long way off.

Up until the time of this writing they still have not found out what was released and infact they might never find out. I imagine SOMEONE SOMEWHERE is diligently righting the full report. Which brings me to question the government's ability to handle environmental desasters at such a scale in heavily populated areas. Thousands of containers arrive at the Kingston Harbour on a dialy basis - what kind of contingence measures do they have to ensure that those containers aren't carrying some kind of lethal chemical that could potentially be leaking into the enviroment? Must we wait until people get sick or die before someone pays attention?

It has been only 2 years ago when a Chlorine spill forced the closure of the Kingston Wharves. Even from my own recent experience (2 months ago ) I have witnessed brown slugge leaking (or being released) out of a ship heading towards the Kingston Habour - considering that I was watching in a commercial airline you would have to be spilling ALOT of oil for me to be seeing the trial from 20,000 feet in the air. Maybe its regular ship behaviour, I do not know, but I am sure it cannot be good.

In 2009 Sulphuric acid spill affecting more than three kilometres of the Kingston Harbour shoreline, has left fish dead and prompted a warning from the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) for humans to stay away. In 2010 there was a oil spill between the Petrojam Oil Refinery and Hunts Bay Power Station, operated by the Jamaica Public Service.

Over the years there have been several fires at the Riverton City Solid Waste Dump. Only god knows how many people that affected and how long it took to detect and contain the fire. One thing is sure MILLIONS OF DOLLARS were spent because we love spending money on preventable events are regular intervals.

The problem is not limited to Kingston either because serveral fish kills have been reported to in various rivers across the island. These events are often linked to various nearby factories.

The majority of events often results in a "response" to the event. This response often occurs as a knee jerk reaction too late to identify to the cause of problem as in the case of the portmore toll closure. I am not casting blame on National Environment & Planning Agency because they have their hands full with habitual polluters and Owl molesters. I am hoping to bring light to how important it is for all of us to monitor our environment and ensure that it stays healthy. And we should also seek to employ more forms of preventative and early detection systems to curtain the effect that these disasters have on people and the environment alike.

In the long run I hope the government seeks to establish better prevention and monitoring mechanisms instead of waiting for things to go bad. This will help you to avoid having a press conference to announce the writing of a full report which either never comes out or amounts to a high school level essay.

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