Fri | Jul 20, 2018

Stamp out tyre burning to lift air quality - Gordon

Published:Tuesday | October 10, 2017 | 12:00 AMPaul Clarke
Audley Gordon
In this July 2008 file picture members of the security Force provide security at Riverton City dump in Kingston which had been on fire for sevral days.

The burning of tyres and other hazardous materials in communities around the Riverton City dump for financial gain must be stamped out or regulated if the deteriorating air quality is to improve, says National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) Executive Director Audley Gordon.

He was reacting to yesterday's Gleaner Editors' Forum headline story 'Abandoned', in which the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) accused the authorities of "giving up on clean air for the communities around Spanish Town Road in the vicinity of the Riverton City landfill and for persons travelling along the Mandela Highway".

Gordon told The Gleaner that the NSWMA has a report that suggests that the practice of burning tyres is done in order to extract constituent wires that are then sold into the scrap metal trade.

"There is an issue of burning, whether it be tyres or other hazardous materials, that takes place in the Riverton community by people who obviously have some business interest in the materials that they burn," Gordon stated.

Gordon noted that while he was concerned, it was not the remit of the NSWMA to take the lead on environmental matters, but added that the NSWMA still had a logical role to play in the proper disposal of waste materials.

The Riverton City dump has, in the past, been a major pollutant with frequent uncontrolled fires, but that has changed with a more robust fire suppression system put in place along with the compartmentalisation of certain waste materials.

"As it is now, we are very concerned about the uncontrolled burning of tyres and any other toxic waste, even though it is outside our remit. Our landfill, fortunately for us, no longer is a huge contributor of pollutants, and we are very happy about that," he added, stressing that the NSWMA still has a stake in aiming for a pollutant-free environment.