Fri | Jan 18, 2019

Amidst another fire at Riverton NSWMA could have licence suspended

Published:Friday | March 13, 2015 | 12:00 AMChristopher Serju

The National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) will this morning serve a range of Notices of Intention to Suspend the permit, on the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA), for several breaches of the terms and conditions of the two environmental permits under which it operates the Riverton City waste disposal site in St Andrew.

The notices are a precursor to a potential suspension of the NSWMA's licence to operate the island's largest garbage dump and comes almost a year after the Natural Resources Conservation Authority (NRCA) granted a permit for solid waste treatment and disposal and another for a hazardous waste storage, transportation, treatment or disposal facility.

NEPA's enforcement manager, Richard Nelson, told The Gleaner that while there is no fine associated with the Notice of Intention to Suspend, it is a requirement by law and gives the agency 30 days in which to clean up its act.

"If they fail to do it (remedy the situation) then we suspend the permits and they shouldn't be operating the dump. If they continue to operate the dump without a permit then we would have to take them to court," Nelson explained.


Build up of garbage


One of the notices has to do with the NSWMA's failure to compact garbage and then covering it with a layer of soil or other suitable material and the process repeated every two weeks, resulting in a build up of alternating layers of garbage and buffer material.

The enforcement manager explained the importance of adherence to this international practice for landfill operations. "As long as the garbage is not exposed to air it will not catch fire ... ."

It amounts to dereliction of duty by the garbage collection agency to not put in place an emergency fire-fighting system, independent of the Jamaica Fire Brigade.

Basil Fernandez, managing director of the Water Resources Authority explains; "The discussions we had with the National Solid Waste Management Authority was that a system would be put in place where a pump would be connected into the Duhaney River which runs by Riverton and then you could basically pump water whenever there was a fire. It would be a fire-fighting thing, not for any thing else but I don't know that that has been done but I would not think so if they are going to bring fire brigade come there."

Jennifer Edwards executive director of the NSWMA declined to speak on the matter, referring to Clive Davis, head of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM).


Thick smoke


Meanwhile, the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) is advising that persons who are experiencing respiratory problems as a result of the smoke from the Riverton Dump should report to their doctor or general health facility.

The fire at the dump has been affecting sections of the Corporate Area since yesterday, resulting in a thick smoke cover.

ODPEM has asked residents living close to the dump to avoid or reduce exposure to smoke by closing windows and doors and remaining indoors as much as possible, cover nose and mouth with a clean wet rag or cloth to minimise effects of the smoke and avoid exposing laundry outdoors since these can become contaminated.

Additionally, the Ministry of Education, yesterday, authorised schools affected by the smoke to end the school day early. Checks by The Gleaner indicate that schools in and around the area maintained regular hours.

Andre Poyster also contributed to this story..