Please Keep Air Quality Standards High in Jamaica sign now

Despite claims from the National Environment and Planning Agency, NEPA, that there exists a construction site management protocol and air quality standards which regulate the pollutant levels emanating from construction sites, the vexed and intolerable issue of construction pollution continues virtually unchecked in most neighbourhoods in Jamaica, with ongoing construction activity. Investigations have revealed that current air quality standards in Jamaica are outdated and are really geared towards monitoring industrial pollution, while NEPA itself has a serious capacity issue in terms of monitoring construction dust emissions. Indeed, further investigations have failed to unearth any construction site management protocol in existence at NEPA aside from instructions that construction sites must be appropriately hoarded. This has led to a scenario whereby the Trafalgar Council, in light of intolerable pollution levels in the vicinity of construction sites in Seymour Lands, Trafalgar Park and the residential sections of New Kingston has in recent times sought to engage individual developers in an effort to foster some semblance of order in the process. This has led to the development of Heads of Agreement with individual developers seeking to standardize construction site management best practices and mitigate pollution levels. Some of the issues normally included are as follows:
1. The Developer undertakes to use one or a combination of the following methods must be used to maintain dust control on all disturbed soils and Construction Sites, including all access routes and staging areas:
(a) The soil shall be maintained in a sufficiently damp condition to prevent loose grains of soil from becoming dislodged; or
(b) The soil shall be crusted over by application of water; or
(c) The soil shall be completely covered with clean gravel or treated with an approved Dust Suppressant.
In (a) and (b) above, this can be achieved by the use of water sprayers at such intervals to dampen exposed areas as well as to facilitate wheel washing of all on-site vehicles before they exit the site
2. The Developer undertakes to adhere to the following dust mitigation guidelines where practicable:
a) Reducing the size of the staging area;
b) Disturbing only a portion of the overall site at one time;
c) Paving roadways as soon as possible;
d) Constructing block walls as soon as possible;
e) Planting perimeter vegetation with a view to stabilizing loose soils at the beginning of the project;
f) Limiting the number of ingress and egress points;
g) Paving parking lots as soon as possible;
h) Stabilizing the portion of the construction site not being actively worked for the period of time it is vacant; or
i) Confine import haul traffic to compacted or paved routes where possible, to avoid picking up soil and rock in tyre treads.
3. The Developer undertakes to enclose and engage in the routine dampening of fine particle materials on-site
4. When winds occur that cause fugitive dust emissions, despite adhering to all best management practices, all construction activities must cease immediately, except water trucks which should continue to operate; Water trucks/pulls should continue to operate under these circumstances unless wind conditions are such that continued operation of watering equipment cannot reduce fugitive dust emissions or visibility is limited to an extent that it is hazardous to continue operating equipment.
5. The Developer or its assignee undertakes that under no circumstances shall construction material be stored outside the site perimeter
6. The Developer or its assignee undertakes to dispose of all construction waste in the approved manner dictated by the Government of Jamaica;
7. The Developer or its assignee undertakes to proceed expeditiously with the process of landscaping as soon as practical completion is effected so as to reduce the likelihood of loose soils and dust nuisance.
8. The Developer or its assignee undertakes to utilize all reasonable methods to minimize and/or eliminate instances of drug usage or the use of calumnious language on its work site.
9. The Developer undertakes to restore the roadway in the vicinity of development to at least the condition that it was in prior to the commencement of construction
Whereas, it is acknowledged that this is an untidy and highly inefficient approach to regulation, in light of NEPAs inaction to date, there has been little option left to the affected citizenry as cases of respiratory illnesses in the affected communities have jumped considerably. We the undersigned do therefore call on the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) to immediately institute new air quality monitoring standards for Jamaica incorporating fine particle emissions (2.5 microns), with the requisite sanctions and to also to procure the appropriate portable air quality monitoring devices to facilitate meaningful oversight. Further we call on NEPA and the Town and Country Planning Authority (TCPA) to immediate institute an effective construction site management protocol for all construction projects incorporating global best practices some of which are highlighted above.

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