Auto

Old tyres, the burning issue

BY BRIAN BONITTO Associate Editor -- Auto and Entertainment bonittob@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, March 21, 2014    

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THE black smoke billowing from the Riverton City landfill in St Andrew may have disappeared, but Jennifer Edwards — National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) boss — believes it has cleared the way for a discussion on a national policy.

"Jamaica needs an End of Life policy as it relates to the disposal of discarded tyres and derelict motor vehicles," Edwards told Auto.

The executive director of NSWMA said heaps of discarded tyres can be found at garages and tyre shops islandwide and could have deadly consequences due to their flammability.

"The government policy would determine how individuals treat tyres at the end of their usefulness as well as old vehicles which are oftentimes used to block roads," she said.

The tyres that occupy the landfill site were disposed of in the garbage. The NSWMA cannot remove them off private properties.

Edwards said it is "almost impossible" to prevent unauthorised persons from accessing the landfill site.

Established in 2001, the NSWMA is the government entity responsible for managing the collection, treatment and disposal of solid waste islandwide.

On Sunday, fire of unknown origin razed sections of the Riverton City landfill where discarded tyres were stored. A collaborative effort by the Fire Brigade, National Works Agency and National Water Commission contained the blaze which lasted three days. "I am heading there now to get a first-hand assessment of the damage," she said yesterday.

Tyres at the five-acre landfill are stored in bales as they cannot be incinerated. The massive build-up poses a health threat as they form a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

Tyres are also an ecological concern as the metals, rubber chemicals and toxins in them can seep into groundwater when placed in moist soil.

Edwards said a group out of the United States had expressed an interest in purchasing the discarded tyres, but that deal may have gone up in smoke. She declined to give the name of the organisation.

"The discussions had started in September or October last year. They are Jamaicans living in the United States... Nothing was finalised, but their lawyers and ours were in dialogue," were all the details she would disclose.

Old tyres can be ground into crumbs to be used for such value-added products as asphalt for road surfacing, tiles, tile adhesives, surfacing of sporting facilities, carpet underlay, noise and vibration insulation, artificial reefs, playgrounds and matting.

In 2009, former NSWMA executive director Joan Gordon-Webley told Auto she had interviewed representatives from an American-based tyre-recycling firm, DSC Global, who were interested in purchasing the discarded tyres to be used for similar products.

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