Sun | Feb 16, 2020

Four to go forward with case against NSWMA - Ill effects of 2014 Riverton fire

Published:Wednesday | August 8, 2018 | 12:00 AMJason Cross/Gleaner Writer
Arlene Harrison Henry

Four persons claiming damages arising from smoke emitted from a fire at the Riverton dump in St Andrew in 2014 are awaiting a new trial date for the matter being pursued against the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA). Multiple fires occurred at the waste-disposal site in 2014.

Public Defender Arlene Harrison Henry informed The Gleaner recently that the NSWMA lost its fight to have the Court of Appeal strike out the claim on grounds that the claimants were frivolous and vexatious, and that the claim was an abuse of the judicial process.

"The public defender has a duty to provide professional assistance to complainants who allege breaches of their constitutional right," Harrison Henry said. "We took a decision that we want the court to rule on the Riverton dump and to make a ruling on the many fires and their impact on citizens, and if their constitutional right to a healthy environment has been violated," she added.

"We wanted a declaration from our court that by virtue of the frequent fires and the impact on the broader society, the actions of the NSWMA have resulted in violation of a constitutional entitlement to a healthy and productive environment," Harrison Henry told The Gleaner.

But the NSWMA put up a challenge through its attorneys claiming that the matter was not fit to be tried in the constitutional court. However, it was concluded that the complainants, in fact, had a case.

"Our next move is to get a [new] trial date. The last trial date was vacated when the NSWMA tried to diminish our claim in the court. We feel very sure that the courts will vindicate the rights of these citizens, recognising that a healthy and productive environ-ment is not a privilege, but a right," the public defender declared.

The four claimants are: Louie Johnson, Joya Hylton, Lamoy Malabre and Ernest Sandcroft.