by Lyf Compton
Residents of Roucher Bay, Campden Park are calling on the St Vincent Brewery Limited and the relevant authorities to address the foul odour alleged to be coming from a waste water treatment
plant on the brewery compound.
The residents are also calling on the brewery to stop the flow of waste water into the sea as they believe it is killing marine life as well as polluting the bay.
“The first thing you open your door is stink-ness coming to you. Smell like pig sh**; smell like a combination of more than one kind of scent you get from over dey,” Sybil Nanton, a resident of the area told SEARCHLIGHT on Wednesday.
Nanton said she is raising grandchildren in the area and all she wants is for the odour and pollution to go away.
“It sick your stomach. All I need is just a healthy environment for our people and children,” Nanton said sadly.
She stressed that the odour has been affecting residents for a long time now and although they have complained many times, the problem persists.
“They build a wall that would prevent the water from coming over into the street, but that is not the problem, the real problem is the ‘stink-ness’.
“I does say is that making me sick cause me nah feel too good right now,” Nanton commented.
She said that at times, the liquid waste that comes from the Brewery is hot and it turns the sea brown and kills small fish.
“We plan to demonstrate,” another resident Earla Matthews told SEARCHLIGHT.
She said she has been living in Roucher Bay for over 20 years and alleges the problem with the stench began when the Brewery constructed three large silos about five years ago.
“…Now a stinking scent does come…and stink up the whole place. Everyday. Up to this morning I told someone I going to demonstrate,” Matthews said while adding that she needs people to come together.
“We talk to them and they say they trying to get something to go good, but I ain’t see nothing going good. This does make me feel sick. All now so I feeling sicky,” Matthews further commented while adding that the smell keeps her up at night.
“We have to do something. We going demonstrate. I don’t know when but we going to. You have to cope with it, and I tired now,’” the angry woman said while adding that she wants to move out of the area.
“I looking to go way all thing, me ain’t sticking up here,” Matthews told SEARCHLIGHT while adding that her deceased sister-in-law would become so frustrated at times that she would pelt stones at the containers.
Resident Roland Williams said another issue is that sometimes the tanks give off a foam and it falls on the community like snow.
He said this snow-like residue damages skin, clothes and the paint on houses.
“That want to move. That upsetting,” said Williams who added that the pollution has forced the closure of a neighbourhood disco called “Sand Ah Rush” owned by one Cedric Young.
The distraught man said the issue is upsetting because there are many small children in the area and there is no way of knowing if the pollution is affecting their health and the health of others.
A 10-year little girl told SEARCHLIGHT that one day, she and her cousin were sitting on a bench in the area when the tanks began to froth.
“The containers overflowed and bubbled out the top and it went into my mouth, something looking like foam, and snow, like when snow falling. It made me sick,” said the child who added that if the foam-like substance touches “anywhere white it turns brown”.
She said on one occasion, the brewery gave her grandmother paint to re-paint their home because of the discoloration caused by the foam.
Another resident who preferred to remain anonymous said, “you think what you smelling now bad? It does be stronger than that…this going on a long, long, long time”.
When contacted on Wednesday, Minister of Health Luke Browne said he would look into the issue.
Brewery personnel said on Wednesday that the facility has a purification system valued at over $1 million and that system cleans the water before it is released into the environment.
According to the employee, the purification system is attached to a fish tank through which water flows before being released to the environment. It is said if the fish die, then the water is dirty. A brewery worker also suggested that the smell may be coming from the neighbouring Eastern Caribbean Bottlers Inc. (ECBI) owned by the East Caribbean Group of Companies (ECGC).
An employee of ECBI who preferred not to be named said that there is nothing being discharged from ECBI that would cause a scent, but an investigation will be launched.
Parliamentary representative for South Leeward Nigel “Nature” Stephenson told SEARCHLIGHT on Wednesday that he has no doubt that the odour is coming from the brewery.
He said just before the last General Elections (2015), he spoke with the then technical manager of the brewery, who told him that the odour was from the silos, which are part of the waste water treatment system, but the odour would disappear over a period of time.
In a September 10, 2019 Facebook post, Stephenson published a video which showed water coming from the silos running into a gutter in Roucher Bay and being carried to the sea.
He said that the residents have been complaining to him continuously and he has not been able to have the problem addressed.
One person with experience in the operation of waste water treatment plants told SEARCHLIGHT that when such plants are operated properly, no odour comes from them. A stench indicates that one or more of the parameters of the treatment plant are out of specification, the expert said.
Chief Environmental Health Officer Neri James said complaints have been made and the Roucher Bay area will be investigated with support from the Ministry of Works and the Physical Planning Department.