Deterioration of air quality in the major urban population centres of Kingston, Spanish
Town, and Montego Bay, and in the Santa Cruz mountains southwest of Mandeville, has been a
persistent cause of concern. Principal contributors to this problem have been stack
emissions from oil refineries, power stations, chemical processing facilities, the
Kingston-area cement plant, as well as bauxite mining and processing, sugar production,
and other industrial operations. The burning of garbage at municipal dumps, and vehicular
emissions also contribute to the problem. The consequences of these emissions are frequent
high particulate levels in these urban areas, and potential adverse health impacts on
local populations. The NRCA is at present finalising the policy framework, regulations and
guidelines and establishing sustainable administrative infrastructure to ensure compliance
and enforcement of a range of environmental quality mandates. The NRCA in March 1995, with
support from the IDB, held discussions involving relevant regulatory agencies, the private
sector and NGOs in three locations to cover all parishes on the elements of this
"Permit and Environmental Assessment System" and which is to become mandatory in
A review of studies conducted on the effects of air pollution in Jamaica, as well as of
preliminary air quality data collected by the Centre for Nuclear Sciences, U.W.I, and of
regional and United States Environmental Protection Agency standards, resulted in draft
interim ambient air quality standards proposed in July 1993. The standards for ambient,
air quality stack, and vehicles will be promulgated in 1995.
Major issues regarding air pollution include:
the need for a national air quality monitoring programme and an air quality monitoring
system in critical urban and industrial areas to control stationary sources of air
the need for national standards for ambient air quality and for stack emissions on an
the need for coordination with energy and land use policies, such that a zoning policy
based on maintenance of certain quality or improvement in quality characteristics can be
the need for a clear definition of an anti-degradation policy;
the need for regulation and control of pollution from motor vehicles and other mobile
the need for regulation and control of noise from motor vehicles, sound systems and
Water supply sources and connected downstream wetland, estuary, and marine ecosystems
are being contaminated by sediments, pathogens, and chemicals. This contamination
primarily results from deforestation of upper watersheds, improper disposal of liquid and
solid wastes, and runoff contaminated by agrochemicals. The principal consequences of this
water pollution are noticed in human health impacts and degradation of downstream
habitats. Inadequate planning of urban developments, and the expansion of numerous illegal
housing and other developments is a major factor contributing to water pollution. Many of
these legal or illegal structures do not have access to reliable piped water systems or
waste disposal services.
Routine water quality monitoring is conducted by several agencies and as mentioned
previously in the section on Waste Management, this fragmentation itself creates problems
which have to be resolved. In April 1995, the University of the West Indies and NRCA
co-chaired a consultation on a national environmental monitoring system and the
implementation of this integrated system will be initiated as national priority.
Currently, water quality monitoring is done by the NRCA, the Ministry of Health -
Environmental Control Division (ECD), Underground Water Authority (UWA) and the National
Water Commission (NWC).
The parameters analyzed on a routine basis differ among the agencies but include BOD,
pH, total coliform, faecal coliform, and nitrate-nitrogen. There is no routine monitoring
of heavy metals, pesticides or fertilizers so the contribution to the pollution load from
agricultural activity and some industries is not known.
Several factors contribute to the present delay in implementing pollution control
schemes, among them, design and cost of clean technology as well as management
deficiencies or weak organizational structures.
In the area of land pollution, the main concerns are associated with the agricultural
and industrial use of the land. The extent of the problem is not yet fully assessed.
However, specific instances in the past have resulted in contamination caused by a metal
refinery plant and illegal lead-smelting backyard operations, and the power generating
facilities at a specific location, Hunts Bay.
The metal refinery plant and the associated illegal backyard smelting operations in
contamination of soil in the Red Pond District of St. Catherine. Lead-contaminated soil
and material (LCM) has been removed to a site for disposal. The site had been identified
by a team of personnel from the Underground Water Authority (UWA), the Environmental
Control Division (ECD) and the NRCA. An estimated 3000 cubic yards of LCM has been
deposited in a specially prepared landfill.
A plan for remediation of contaminated soils at Hunts Bay has been prepared by a
consultant team using World Bank guidelines and recommendations of the NRCA. The plan is
to be implemented by the end of 1995. Incineration in the cement kiln of the Caribbean
Cement Company, has been considered as an option for soil remediation.
Over the next year Government will finalize air quality standards, either as national
standards promulgated by the Bureau of Standards or as technical regulations under the
In the coming year Government will initiate a national emissions study and finalize
stack emissions standards and vehicular emission standards.
Through the routine water quality monitoring programme of the NRCA, the government will
expand the number of parameters tested to include heavy metals, pesticide residues, and
other organic chemicals. The NRCA laboratory will be upgraded beginning in 1994 to
undertake these tasks.
In the coming year, Government will finalize standards for trade effluent, sewage
effluent, ambient water quality, potable water, irrigation water and recreational water
(pools and beaches).
Over the next year, Government, through the NRCA, will collaborate with the Pesticides
Control Authority in their public education programme in respect of the effects of
pesticide abuse on water pollution. Through RADA, it will promote an Integrated Pest
Management Programme which will result in a reduction in reliance on chemical pesticides
Within the next two years, Government will consider possibilities for levying specific
taxes on environmentally damaging products as well as the banning of some from usage.
These taxes would be aimed at reducing application of products whose environmental effects
are difficult to monitor and control and will be designed to limit the use of such
products to their most essential applications.
Within the next year, the Underground Water Authority (soon to become the Water
Resources Authority) will introduce a system of volume-based water extraction charges to
encourage the more efficient use of water, particularly among major users. The revenue
gained from these charges will be used to improve monitoring of water quality and