Councillor wants residents close to Riverton tested for dioxins

BY BALFORD HENRY Observer senior reporter balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, April 05, 2015

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KINGSTON and St Andrew Corporation (KSAC) Councillor Delroy Williams has expressed grave concerns about the lack of information on contaminants present in the air, during and after the recent Riverton dump fire.


Councillor Williams, who represents the neighbouring community of Seivwright Gardens, said he was particularly concerned about dioxins, which are in a group of dangerous contaminants that persist in the environment for upward of ten years.


"Dioxins accumulate in the fat tissues of animals and humans, and pile up there for years. Therefore, let us not believe that because the fire has been extinguished, the health threat to our population is gone. This would be an unforgivable negligence," he stated.


He also called on the Ministry of Health to begin a programme to test persons, in the immediate environment and beyond, for the levels of dioxins in their bodies.


"We would want to see if the levels decrease with distance from the dump," he added.


He said that his division, Seivwright Gardens, is just a mile from the dump, and the residents need to know if elevated levels of dioxins were found in the testing done during the fire, since this would amount to a serious public health threat that would require immediate action to protect the population.


"It would make absolutely no sense to keep this information from the public. This would be a disgrace. I would be very surprised, but gladly so, if the tests did not reveal elevated levels of dioxins in the air, since uncontrolled burning of residential waste is a major source of dioxin emissions. But, I am no expert. Let the tests inform us," he said.


He said that it would be prudent for the National Environment & Planning Agency (NEPA) and the Ministry of Health to determine the levels of contaminants, such as dioxins in drinking water, and in foods, such as commercial meat, eggs and dairy products.



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