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CEAC hits snag on waste management expansion plans

A waste management business started by CEAC Outsourcing Limited five years ago has hit a snag, after multiple applications to expand the operations were either denied or stalled by the National Environment & Planning Agency, NEPA.

CEAC, which deals in the incineration of hazardous waste, medical and ship-generated waste under its HazPRO unit, was initially granted an environmental permit to construct and operate a waste incinerator facility at New Yarmouth Estate, Clarendon, for a pilot project in 2018.

On completion of the pilot, the company received a permit to operate an incinerator in Hill Run, St Catherine, after being denied permits from the state agency in 2019 for the construction of the treatment and disposal plant at Ferry Pen in Kingston.

In its filing at the time, NEPA based its decision on “associated risks and the potential impact on the already stressed airshed”, due to the nature of the project.

The term airshed refers to the atmospheric volume over an area of land in which airborne chemicals travel towards a body of water.

The state agency added that the lack of support for the facility arising from public consultation and the objection expressed by stakeholders, inclusive of neighbouring commercial and industrial entities as well as the member of parliament, were also determining factors in its denial of the permit.

Ferry Pen sits in close proximity to the Riverton City dump in Kingston, which is the repository of waste generated within the capital city of Kingston and its conjoined parish of St Andrew.

Through its HazPRO operations, CEAC, which counts the Ministry of Health & Wellness among its largest customers, collects and disposes of over 5,000 kilogrammes of ship-generated food waste, in addition to the disposal of toxic, chemical and hazardous waste as well as destruction of confidential documents, referred to as confidential waste.

Outside of the Hill Run operation, CEAC also has a facility in St James, which collects large quantities of food garbage from ships.

“Medical waste requires incineration or autoclaving and the current facility in Kingston is inadequately sized and incapable of handling certain types of medical waste. Ship generate waste requires incineration, rather than burial, to prevent the transmission of veterinarian diseases to local life stock. Home porting cruise ships to Jamaica require these services and Jamaica is still not compliant with these requirements,” the company said on its website.

CEAC was attempting to expand to go after a larger slice of the medical, ship-generated and hazardous waste disposal business, an area that it says is without adequate treatment facilities. Company owner Christopher Burgess also wants to capture more business from the agricultural sector.

However, NEPA records show that the company has either been refused permits, or in some cases forced to redraft its applications.

The string of submissions, which were either withdrawn, delisted or rejected, spans a three-year timeline.

“It’s a new area of business and so it’s not uncommon for the permits to be delayed. But we are very confident that we will be approved for the expansion over time,” Burgess told the Financial Gleaner. He did not disclose a budget for the expansion.

The business of waste disposal has faced increased scrutiny in recent times, as the Government of Jamaica prepares to roll out a new programme to transform the island’s municipal waste management network.

Disposal dumps such as Riverton in Kingston and Retirement in St James are soon to be permanently closed and replaced, in light of what Prime Minister Andrew Holness said was a comprehensive review of the management of garbage collection, nationally.

The government intends to incorporate more private sector firms in waste collection, the introduction of waste to energy conversion, the commissioning of new properly constructed disposal facilities and the decommissioning of the various landfills.

CEAC is not the only company to have its plans for a waste treatment facility stalled in recent times. In late 2021, NEPA also deferred for further consultation an application submitted by Optimum Clean Solutions Limited, which operates from Maxfield Avenue in Kingston.

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