Click here to print page

Riverton to become green space — gov't

Associate Editor — Features

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

The fire-prone Riverton disposal site in Kingston is to become a green space for the benefit of surrounding communities, according to the enterprise team managing the proposed divestment of solid waste collection and disposal in the country.

News of the divestment — which will include moving the waste disposal operation currently executed on the 100-acre facility on Spanish Town Road to a sanitary landfill — was announced in 2016 when government named the nine-member team to identify a preferred provider for the role.

On Monday, chairman of the team Lyttleton Shirley wasn't any closer to determining the new waste disposal site, but he indicated that the team anticipates completing its 'market sounding' process by mid-2019, and sign into a contract by year end.

“The new location will depend on the type of equipment [investors will propose]... the acreage of land that will be required, and how many plants there will be at strategic locations so that transportation could be effectively reduced...That will come out of the tender process,” he said.

“Government is prepared to provide those lands in areas that will be appropriate to it and strategically located for transportation access,” he continued.

As for the reclamation of the present site, Shirley said the process would take eight years from the time of the contract signing, and that the result will signal a new dawn in which “problems associated with fire...and environmental pollution that affect our people — whether you are in Harbour View, Boulevard, New Kingston or wherever — will be a thing of the past”.

“Riverton dump will be reclaimed over a period of time. As you know, it has 40 years of dump piled up and [a lot of] methane gas would be there, which would need to be managed. The land itself will be reclaimed as green lands for use for the development of the community.

“The PM is very focused on how residents who have suffered over the period of time would be somewhat assisted to reform, in proper areas of proper living and social interaction,” he explained.

Shirley was speaking Monday at Jamaica House where Daryl Vaz, Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, which oversees land and environment, hosted a press conference to discuss elements of the ban on plastic shopping bags, styrofoam food containers and plastic straws. The ban took effect on New Year's Day.

The ban is expected to reduce the amount of plastics that end up in the country's waste stream, which should in turn positively impact the collection and waste disposal processes.

As Shirley explains it, the enterprise team is expecting that potential investors will have at least three major plants, each one generating a total of 30 MW per hour operating on a 24-hour basis, to supply over 2,000 Mw of energy to the national grid.

“One MW of energy could serve anywhere between 600-1,000 residents, so you can understand the impact that this could have if the process used for conversion of waste, as it appears to be, is very financially feasible and could cut the cost of electricity tremendously,” Shirley said.

“A typical waste-to-energy plant that possibly generates 30MW of energy to the grid could cost you US$250 million, so we're looking for investors with deep pockects to have those capacities,” he added.

The entreprise team chair said some 14 investors have shown interest in the project to date, some of whom have been in the country for the past year conducting studies.

For its part, Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) said discussions about a waste-to-energy solution to the waste disposal problems in the island are age-old, and expressed frustration with the pace of the current negotiations.

“I see the pall of air pollution that hangs over the wetsern end of the city everyday... and I do not see how it is fair to ask the people who live there — and it is hundreds of thousands of people — that they just have to suck it up until whatever time this happens. We've been hearing about waste-to-energy, in fairness, for at least 15 years,” JET chair Diana McCaulay said at the press briefing.