Jamaica Tightens Rules After Chemical Spill
KINGSTON, Jamaica — Companies handling corrosive materials along Kingston Harbor will soon be required to have special permits to ensure the safe operation of hazardous chemicals after a 300-ton (270 metric ton) sulfuric acid spill, officials said Tuesday.
The Saturday chemical spill originated from a container owned by the Kingston-based Industrial Chemical Co., according to Jamaica's National Environment and Planning Agency.
Industrial Chemical and numerous other harbour companies — which include petroleum refineries, manufacturing centres and warehouses — must now get government permits to handle chemicals, said Sharleane Williams, management of pollution assessment for the agency.
Previous regulations only required hazardous chemical permits for the few companies established at Kingston Harbor after 1996.
A four-person team from the National Environment and Planning Agency will look for companies on the Kingston waterfront that handle hazardous materials and were established before the 1996 rules went into effect. The Kingston waterfront is the world's seventh-largest natural harbour.
Industrial Chemical Co. will also be required to build an embankment around its Kingston Harbor facility in the next 30 days.
Jamaican officials do not yet know how much marine life died as a result of the spill, which has affected fishing in the nearby Greenwich Town Fishing Village.
The harbour was declared safe for fishing and swimming on Monday. Some acid still remains in the soil, and officials are concerned heavy rain could wash the sediment into waters inhabited by marine life.