Monday, October 02, 2006

Aluminium and Jamaica

"I was a very young reporter at The Gleaner in 1952 when the first
shipment of Jamaican bauxite left for the United States aboard the SS
Carl Schmedeman, an ore carrier built for Reynolds Jamaica Mines. Since
that time, we have exported hundreds of millions of tons of bauxite and
alumina, we have lost mountains, valleys, churches , graveyards, houses,
and schools to the inexorable bite of the bauxite draglines and we've
sacrificed children's lungs and the roofs of houses to the pollution
from alumina refining.

We don't have much to show for it except some suspect foreign exchange
earnings figures and a small class of specially privileged people who
are supported by the industry.

One would have thought that in 50 years an industry as profitable as
this might have clubbed together to donate a trade school to one of the
communities they ravage. Only Kaiser, under Don Tretzel, ever seemed
conscious of its community responsibility. The others have simply gone
their merry way rejoicing at the fools who let them have their bauxite
cheap and do not insist on the proper restoration of mined-out lands as
specified in agreements and licences since 1944.

The aluminium industry is one of the worst polluters on earth, and in
Jamaica their record is dismal. Alcan, the Canadian twin separated from
Alcoa when Alcoa became too big even for the USA, has bequeathed to us
two environmental time bombs in the form of red mud lakes at Mount
Rosser and Mandeville. There is evidence that the St Catherine
groundwater has, for some years, been polluted by Mount Rosser."

John Maxwell


Post a Comment

<< Home