NSWMA boss promises fire-free Retirement dump
MONTEGO BAY, St James — Executive director of National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) Audley Gordon is predicting a fire-free Retirement disposal site during this year’s Christmas season.
Gordon, who was speaking to the Jamaica Observer after a recent management meeting in Montego Bay, St James, said that measures have been put in place to ensure that the disposal site remains uncompromised so that residents and workers are not affected by the smoke, while well-needed resources are also saved.
There were numerous fires at the Retirement disposal site from October 2022 to January 2023 and Gordon has claimed that these are believed to be acts of arson.
“We have put in a number of measures at our disposal facility in Retirement and all our disposal facilities islandwide. We don’t want fires. It does no good,” said Gordon.
“As a matter of fact, it does badly for us, not only in terms of the public relations aspect but understand that we have our brothers and sisters working at these sites and they have to [be] in that pollution when there is a fire. So their health becomes compromised and we don’t want that for our team members,” Gordon added.
He told the Observer that Western Parks and Market Waste Management Limited (WPM), the regional arm of the NSWMA, has been proactive in its planning in case it is met with the usual “sabotage” of a dump fire.
Gordon explained that while water is useful in extinguishing a dump fire, it is the use of topsoil that helps to get the smoke nuisance under control in a timely manner.
“We have ensured that we have enough stockpiled materials so that we can respond in the event, unfortunately, there is a fire. So we can respond and respond quickly. We have also put in other security measures, some we can’t speak about,” said Gordon.
The NSWMA boss also made an appeal to members of the public for their assistance in keeping the disposal site fire-free.
He underscored that fires at disposal sites affect the health of thousands of people living in neighbouring communities.
“We are also appealing to people who would want to sabotage or to compromise…our disposal sites, don’t do it. It costs you the taxpayer. When the fire breaks out, your family gets affected, you get affected, so whatever short-term motive you may have, consider the long-term implications,” said Gordon.
“We also appeal to our men and women who work the disposal sites to be very vigilant. We have discussions with them. We ask the members of the public to give us that support too because we can’t do it alone. We have to have good citizens playing their part,” Gordon added.
While he acknowledges that western Jamaica has been experiencing rainy conditions over the last few weeks, Gordon said that the solid waste team has not dropped their guard.
“Usually it is in heat or dry periods that we have the most challenges and we have been getting some rain now. That does not mean we have let down our guard because we do have fires this time of the year too, especially at Retirement. But we believe that we will go through this time without any.
“We really are optimistic based on the measures that we put in place and what we are trying to do in terms of security. We are hoping that it will bear fruit and I won’t get any calls from the media about fire in these parts,” said Gordon.
In February of this year, Gordon told reporters that the NSWMA had received tips with useful information from residents who have grown concerned about the fires which are taking a toll on their quality of life.
He also declared that they were closing in on the arsonists involved in the fires at the Retirement Disposal Site as investigations had commenced.
“We are getting some information which we believe will be very useful. We won’t disclose the details… Neither will we disclose what we are doing, but we are going to put a stop to it; it’s going to end. We are not going to tolerate this; it is not who we are,” Gordon declared then.