Dumping attitude change needed

Guyana Chronicle
March 11, 2000

DUMPING is becoming a disease in and around Georgetown.

Garbage is dumped every which way - on the seawall, in alleyways, at street corners, parapets, in critical drainage canals, in empty house lots.

And everybody is dumping, it seems.

Builders dump their waste by the seawall, vendors shove their garbage into the drains along the sidewalks, residents dump in alleyways.

Old tyres are dumped on the reserve along the new road on the East Coast Demerara with the dumpers caring little about the damage they are doing to the environment.

There have been reports that some firms in the business of emptying septic tanks in and around the city have been dumping their waste in manholes around the Banks DIH complex in Ruimveldt and other sections of the capital.

The dangers of pollution and the threat to the health of residents nearby from this practice are evident but there has been no hue and cry about this.

This week, it was also reported that someone had dumped two truckloads of waste oil, about 1,500 gallons, into a canal also near the Banks complex at Ruimveldt.

And that oil slick found its way into the Demerara River.

Oil recently flowed into the river at the bauxite mining town of Linden, it was reported, but there was little media attention to that threat to the environment.

The cyanide waste spill into the Essequibo River from the Omai gold mine in August 1995 created headlines here and around the world.

And claims about a recent cyanide problem at a gold mining operation in the Cuyuni created a stir.

Big spills make big news; little spills barely get attention while a word like cyanide sets alarm bells ringing.

This is the kind of attitude that breeds the disregard for the environment that leads to the dangerous dumping of waste oil and other harmful substances in canals and other places.

A cyanide waste spill from the Omai mine is bad, bad but those dumping a little bit of dangerous waste in and around Georgetown are simply being naughty, naughty and not something that anybody should get upset about.

The dumping in and around Georgetown gets noticed sometimes because this is within the main range of operations of the media and people who see draw it to their attention.

But much more has to be done if people here are to be made fully aware of the dangers dumping of harmful substances pose to the environment and to their health and safety.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says it has asked the Police to help it investigate the dumping of the waste oil in the canal near the Banks DIH complex.

Head of Operations at the agency, Ms Denise Fraser has pointed out that dumping substances harmful to the environment is unlawful and carries a possible jail term and fine.

The campaign has to be intensified and the EPA has to shed its low profile to be as aggressive as the Bureau of Standards in going after the culprits.

The faster it succeeds in landing one before a court for a stiff fine or jail term, the faster will the message get around.