Fri | Dec 9, 2016

More Riverton questions

Published:Saturday | March 21, 2015 | 12:00 AMLemuel Brady

The Riverton City 'dump site' - not a landfill site by any stretch of the enlightened imagination - is in the news again. Another 'fire of unknown origin' has been sending smoke and fumes into the air, smothering neighboring communities and beyond.

Like the billowing smoke, assignment of blame has been spreading far and wide. As is the custom, the Government is the target, and more specifically, the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) - the scapegoat designate.

What, however, is the genesis of this ongoing and untenable situation? When and by whom was the original decision taken that the vicinity of the community of Riverton City, with its well laid out streets and residential housing, should become the city's dumping ground? Unbeknownst to many people, Riverton City was, at one stage, a well laid out residential community.

 

from salvage to dump

 

Over time, the area appears to have inadvertently been taken over by the dumpsite, as residents came to the realisation that valuable salvage could be gathered from the site. Some folks began to stockpile their gathered material, hoping to make a substantial sale at some future date, and soon, without them even realising it, as more and more persons stockpiled their treasures, they actually brought the dump into their homes.

If the truth is to be told, the site might have originally been chosen out of convenience or because of its proximity to the city at a time when the population of the city was less dense, and all that the then authorities wanted was a place where they could get rid of the garbage.

It should be kept in mind that the dump site and its problems were not of the NSWMA's making. The site is a legacy from the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation (KSAC) that, despite efforts to take care of the city's solid waste, seemed not to have been blessed with the technical know-how required for engineering the creation of a sanitary landfill. Such a facility would have precipitated the need for the kind of management structure which requires appropriately trained personnel, with both the know-how and the know-why for its operation, and would also include adequate security to preclude the incursion on to the site, of the many unauthorised persons who have come to regard unrestricted access to such sites as their inalienable right.

Under prevailing conditions, fires have been known to be lit, for instance, in order to remove the plastic coating from copper wire - a recoverable of prime value. However, because of the lack of informed and vigilant supervision, these fires have perhaps been lit in a setting where methane generated from the decaying organic matter served to support the spread of such fires, eventually resulting in the fire-and-smoke episodes of repeated occurrence. So, in one sense, the blame could or should be placed not on the individuals who now are in charge of the site. Rather, it should be placed on the ignorance or lack of the necessary know-how among those in charge of the operation of the facility.

 

untrained

 

One doubts whether the managers of the facility and, indeed, of the entire solid waste management organisation, have had any kind of training that prepares them to anticipate and take the necessary steps to obviate the kinds of conditions which have resulted in recent experiences at the dump.

What options are open to us? Well, could consideration be given to closing that site? Where could a suitable alternative site be found? Then there is also the suggestion that the operation be privatised. What would be the specific terms and conditions of such a contract, whereby such a private entity could be held responsible for ensuring that there would be no repeat of the recurring problem?

Obviously, starting a new dump site would be out of the question. A sanitary landfill would have to be the new approach - with all the technical and technological management accompaniments, ensuring preservation of the physical environment. Where could such a location be found that within reasonable proximity to the city, but sufficiently far away not to become a nuisance - should the undesirable or unexpected (God forbid!) occur? How might such a venture be funded, and what are the prospects of it becoming self-sustaining - thereby relieving taxpayers of the burden of its upkeep?

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