Thugs turn to trash - Criminals making a killing out of illegal dump sites
Thugs in the vicinity of Six Miles and in the nearby New Haven community in St Andrew are collecting thousands of dollars each week by operating illegal garbage disposal facilities.
A Sunday Gleaner probe has found that the men who operate the mini dumps charge by the truckload for rubbish to be offloaded at the sites instead of the truckers going to the official landfill operated by the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA).
Business appears to be thriving, so much so that on lands owned by the Urban Development Corporation (UDC) at Six Miles, the men have erected living quarters to facilitate 24-hour service.
"If you have four truckloads we charge three grand ($3,000) and if you have five or six loads that's six grand ($6,000)," said one man who our reporter was directed to speak to during a visit to the Six Miles site last week.
"You can come any day and we take rubble; anything. But nothing stink because UDC say we are not to dump anything stink or light fire over here," he added.
But another person in the area urged the reporter to be cautious when coming to dump the rubbish, "as the Solid Waste Management Authority visit the area regularly".
While acknowledging ownership of the land, CEO of the UDC, Dr Damian Graham, refuted the claim that the state agency had granted permission for the dump to be set up on the property.
"That is UDC land that is now a part of the development for the Caymanas Economic Zone," said Graham.
"The UDC would never approve of anybody carrying out anything except lease or rental of property. We don't allow persons to dump. It is not in the divestment policy to do so and, therefore, anybody who make a representation that they would be given authorisation would be doing so outside of what our mandate is.
"Those lands are currently being surveyed as part of our economic zone and are not part of any commercial discussion at this point until that study is completed within the next 11 months," added Graham.
LIGHTING THE RUBBISH
The illegal dump in New Haven is on an open lot, while the one in the Six Miles area is along the bank of the Duhaney River with businesses and residents nearby being severely affected by the smoke nuisance which comes when the operators light the rubbish.
"They light it every day because what they do is collect in the day and light in the evening, so there is a lot of smoke. So pollution is the main issue we have here," said the operator of a nearby business.
"A lot of people have got sick and we see lot of workers going to doctor more recently and taking sick days than before due to smoke," added the business operator.
Former director of operations at the NSWMA, Percy Stewart, said he had heard of the Six Miles dump while employed at the state entity.
"When we first heard about this dump they were carrying medicinal waste to go and dump over there," Stewart revealed. "We tracked the truck and they passed Riverton and disappeared. It was realised sometime later that's where they went and dumped it."
Stewart, a civil and environmental consultant, said with the men still operating the dump without a permit and truckers taking waste to the site, which are two breaches under the Solid Waste Act, the authorities have two grounds on which to act.
"What I heard is that there are some bad guys who control over there, so they (NSWMA) must use police and soldiers to go and enforce a cease-and-desist order on them, and if any more trucks come there they should be seized," said Stewart.
In the meantime, new head of the NSWMA, Audley Gordon, said he was not aware of the two illegal dumps until our news team brought them to his attention.
"Having got wind of it, both areas will come in for focus with a view of closing them down," said Gordon.
"My investigators are currently in the field gathering information and seeing if we can identify any of the principal players behind it. But one thing the public must know and be assured of, we will not allow it to continue," added Gordon.
He said the public can be assured that his agency will be leading the charge to enforce the rules surrounding dumps.
"We intend to have a multiagency approach to the situation, because those are in areas where we have to involve the JCF (Jamaica Constabulary Force), involve NEPA (National Environment and Planning Agency) and other agencies that can help us to resolve this matter," declared Gordon.
Illegal dumps and the law
- Section 23 of the National Solid Waste Management Act stipulates that "a licence is required for persons who operate or propose to operate waste-disposal sites, provide or propose to provide waste collection or transfer, or otherwise manage solid waste".
- Section 45 of the act prescribes that persons who break the rules "are liable on summary conviction before a resident magistrate to a fine not exceeding $1 million or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding nine months, or to both fine and imprisonment".