Wed | Sep 26, 2018

Shut down that dump! ... says JET in wake of NEPA's latest air-quality findings

Published:Wednesday | September 12, 2018 | 12:00 AMSyranno Baines/Gleaner Writer
The Riverton City landfill on fire recently.

The Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) is insisting that the Riverton dump off Spanish Town Road is not suitably located, as there are too many people living and working in and around the area who are being exposed to harmful pollutants, especially in the event of a fire.

JET is also renewing calls for Government to take the necessary steps to bring local air-quality standards in line with international benchmarks.

JET's CEO Suzanne Stanley's assertion comes in the wake of the National Environment and Planning Agency's (NEPA) release yesterday of the findings of an air quality study it conducted during and after the Riverton dump fire which, last month, blanketed the Corporate Area in smoke for several days.

The study showed that "marked increases" in toxic gases and particulate matter could have possible health impact, especially to sensitive groups.

"It cannot continue like this. This has been a problem way too long, decades in fact, and very limited action has been taken. It has been committee after committee, report after report and no effective action, as we're still at this point," Stanley bemoaned shortly after conducting a preliminary review of the report.

"This is the health of our citizens. We have a right to a clean and healthy environment and our rights are being infringed upon. This is the second fire at the community this year. The dump needs to move. It is not a suitable location for a dump site," she underscored.

The report further outlined that the fire at the dump resulted in deteriorated air quality that affected southern St Andrew and Kingston, as well as sections of southeastern St Catherine.

Areas of greatest exposure included, the Three Miles to Six Miles corridor, New Haven, Duhaney Park, Cooreville Gardens, Washington Gardens, Patrick City, Pembroke Hall and Olympic Gardens.

The findings also showed that 46 pollutants were detected from the analyses conducted on volatile organic compound samples, 34 of which were detected above the lower concentration limit of the method of analysis.

The results of the analysis also indicated higher-than-normal concentrations of benzene and toluene.

"When exposed to those two pollutants over long periods there are very negative impacts such as persons developing respiratory issues. Also, benzene has been well-established as a cause of cancer, so it's carcinogenic to humans and we're very concerned about that."

syranno.baines@gleanerjm.com