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NSWMA scolds JET over Riverton fire statement

Monday, May 07, 2018

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The National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) yesterday described as “unfortunate and misleading” a social media post by the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) relating to a fire in the vicinity of Riverton City, the community where the capital city's waste disposal site is located.

The post was apparently made after it was reported that there was a fire at the dump.

However, the fire was actually on a property where old motor vehicle tyres are stored near to the dump.

According to the NSWMA, the JET post stated “inter alia '…The fact that the dump continues to proliferate illegal tyre burning in the communities surrounding the site speaks to the poor management of Jamaica's solid waste and lack of enforcement of the associated legislation…'”

However, the NSWMA said the statement was “most unfortunate” because in the morning its executive director received a call from an executive at JET and sent a follow-up text message to advise that the fire was from a property in the Riverton City community and was not on or had anything to do with the Riverton disposal site.

“It is regrettable that a leading environmental organisation like JET could make such an unfortunate and misleading statement even after being provided with the correct information,” the NSWMA said in a news release.

“Further, all of Jamaica is well aware of the improvements done at the Riverton disposal site since the fire in 2015 and also the current efforts by the Government of Jamaica to privatise the management of this disposal site,” the agency added.

The NSWMA said that while it admits that the solid waste situation in Jamaica is far from where it should be, it is “optimistic, based on the improvements and efforts being made by the Government and management team to address the challenges”.

The fire resulted in traffic being diverted from Spanish Town Road until after firefighters brought the blaze under control.

In March, the Jamaica Observer reported that residents of Washington Gardens and its environs were experiencing respiratory problems linked to late-night tyre burning in the area.

The air pollution issue in the area was highlighted at the Parish Disaster and Committee meetings of the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation in January, but the Observer was told by the National Environment and Planning Agency that the air quality monitor in Washington Gardens has been out of service since 2015.

The affected communities are said to be Callaloo Mews, Washington Gardens, Riverton Meadows, and Cooreville.

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