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Fire dept says Riverton dump should have own water supply

BY KIMMO MATTHEWS Observer staff reporter matthewsk@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, March 18, 2014    

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DESPITE several raging fires at the Riverton City disposal site in recent times, the island's largest dump is operating without an independent water supply which is a prerequisite for landfills in other jurisdictions, according to the local fire department.

This is another shortcoming for the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA)-managed facility, which is said to be also operating without several environmental permits.

"As a prerequisite landfills are required to have their own water source and it would be best to have this independent of the national water supply," said Emelio Ebanks, the Jamaica Fire Brigade's public relations officer, who pointed out that the landfill is without this commodity despite being located in an area of St Andrew near a river.

Ebanks made the comment yesterday, a day after fire fighters, who are still working to put out a blaze at the site, complained that their operations were hampered by a lack of water.

"What Riverton needs to do is to build a catchment or storage area," Ebanks said, adding that this could be facilitated by the nearby river.

Yesterday, the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) reported that, after two days of co-ordinated activities of the national response team, the fire and smoke nuisance are now under control.

ODPEM gave this assurance in a media release following the activation of its national emergency protocol, which saw the National Works Agency, National Water Commission and the Jamaica Fire Brigade working overnight to restrict the raging fire to a five-acre tyre cell on the landfill.

Executive director of the NSWMA Jennifer Edwards said that, in addition to the efforts of several agencies, officials were, up to late yesterday, transporting cover material to the affected area.

"We continue our efforts to bring the fire under control and we are moving cover material to the affected areas and have got the assistance of NROCC (National Road Operating and Constructing Company, responsible for the construction and maintenance of highways and related facilities) with some trucks, the assistance of the police department with a tractor, and we are assiduously working to ensure that the fire is brought under control," said Edwards.

Meanwhile, Ebanks, in assessing the two-day effort, said the teams have made significant progress.

"If we look at where we were yesterday (Sunday) at about 10:00 - 11:00 am, just the smoke that is coming from it is testament that we have made great strides," he said.

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