Return of bauxite : Residents wary of pollution

June 27, 2017
Sandra Miller and her son Akeem in Nain, St.Elizabeth.
Alpart bauxite Plant in Nain, St Elizabeth.

While many residents in St Elizabeth are celebrating the return of bauxite mining in their communities, some persons in Nain feel that their health is being threatened.

"They spoil our water with the pollution in the air. If you harvest water, you can't drink that," said Sandra Miller, who claimed that "a lot of people die in this community from cancer".

"Every other person you hear die here is from cancer. When you ask what is the cause of death, you hear cancer, sinusitis and asthma," Miller said.

However, Everton Baker, director of environmental health at the Ministry of Health, told WESTERN STAR that though he has never heard of an association, he would have to do some more research on the subject matter.

"I have never heard of personally any association between bauxite dust and cancer because its iron ore. The iron ore is extracted, it is normal earth and the earth contains different minerals. You have what you call ecological fallacy where people may be having cancer and living in an area associated with a particular thing," he said.

After being closed for nearly a decade, the Alpart alumina plant in Nain was reopened under the new ownership of Jiuquan Iron and Steel Company (JISCO) last week. Currently, there are 575 Jamaicans employed at JISCO Alpart, and it's projected to increase in the future.


But Miller's son, Akeem, 27, said life in the community with bauxite mining is not all rosy.

"It mess up your house. Sometimes it blows, and us round here, we don't get any compensation for it. You see the people at the front part there at Nain crossroads and Lucky Valley, those people get an enormous amount of money from them, but we around here, don't get anything. When them ready, they come and assess the place," Miller said.

In the community of Genus, Glenvin Witter told WESTERN STAR said respiratory illness are common in the area. "Lots of people here have sinus, and before, we didn't see things like those so I would have to say it is from the pollution from that time (previous plant operation) until now. Whatever you contract is still in the system. In myself, I feel it will be worse."

"When the plant closed down, you can drink the water from rain that runs off the roof but reopening back the plant now, it blow back the pollution. You can't trust the water to drink it, 'cause you don't know what type of chemical they use," he said.

Other News Stories