JET urges gov't to bring fire at St James dump under control

Sunday, July 15, 2018

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) says it is concerned about the frequency of fires at waste disposal sites across the island and is urging the Government and its agencies to take urgent action to bring the fire at the Retirement dump in St James under control.

JET, in a release today, said it was distressed to hear news of yet another fire at one of the island's waste disposal sites, the second such incident in two weeks.

The trust said last night it began receiving reports that the Retirement dump was on fire, which follows a June 28 fire at the Riverton dump in Kingston.

“Dump fires are major and significant source of air pollution and are a public health hazard for those living in close proximity to these sites. Dump fires are especially dangerous as they can emit dangerous fumes from the combustion of the wide range of materials contained within the dump — carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulphide, volatile organics, dioxins and furans,” said JET.

It pointed out that recurrent incidents at Retirement and Riverton indicated inadequate management of Jamaica's licensed dumps.

It argued that Retirement, Riverton and the five other licensed dump sites suffered from decades of neglect.

“None of Jamaica's dumps are landfills — there is no control of leachate, methane emissions, and only very rudimentary separation,” said JET, adding that conditions around, and in some cases on the dump sites, include squatter settlement were cause for concern.

“Animals being kept in unsanitary conditions and people picking waste without protective gear are entirely substandard living conditions.”

JET lashed out at various ministries, departments and agencies that “continue to fail at carrying out their duties at an adequate level in order to protect the health of Jamaican citizens”.

“Proper, effective and efficient solid waste management has been a critical issue for Jamaica for decades, yet successive political administrations have failed to take the necessary action,” the organisation continued.

“Waste management and public health are urgent priorities requiring expertise, accountability, enforcement, sufficient resources and most importantly action."

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