Holiday fires spur Retirement Landfill plans
Plans are now afoot to secure the Retirement Landfill in St James from any further illegal activity, following two fires at the municipal waste-disposal site over the Christmas and New Year's holidays, stated Minister of Local Government and Community Development Noel Arscott.
Arscott, who was speaking after a tour of the facility on Saturday, was accompanied by Mayor of Montego Bay Councillor Glendon Harris; Member of Parliament for West Central St James, Sharon Ffolkes Abrahams; and Councillor for the Granville Division, Michael Troupe, as well as representatives from the police, the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA), Western Parks and Markets (WPM), and the St James Fire Department.
The local government minister said that as of today, the number of persons (unauthorised users) visiting the site would be restricted.
"I am going to ... reduce the number of (unauthorised users) and gradually put in place tighter security management of this landfill," Arscott said.
Among the other measures being considered is the erection of perimeter fencing, the use of the waste at the site to generate energy, as well as the possible privatisation of the operation.
He also stated that he was anxious for the smoke nuisance at the facility to be brought to an end due to its effect on the approximately six communities near the landfill.
The fire, which is believed to be the work of arsonists, was started over the Christmas holiday and was put out by the St James Fire Department, but it was relit on New Year's Eve night.
Arscott urged well-thinking citizens to assist the police, while also stating, "I want to appeal to (the perpetrators) to cease and desist from these activities because in the end, no one benefits."
Harris expressed concern over the health hazard that the smoke was posing for residents in the adjacent communities of Pitfour, Granville, Bogue Village, and Bogue Heights and to a lesser extent, Westgreen, West Green Meadows, and Catherine Hall.
"This is a matter of health, and as of now, whenever there is a fire here, we are going to be calling in the police and the army to ensure that no one accesses (the area), and in the future, preventative measures will be in place," the parish council chairman stated.
Harris also stated that the St James Parish Council would be ensuring the immediate installation of an emergency water supply to facilitate rapid response, as well as the installation of closed-circuit cameras.
Superintendent in Charge of the St James Fire Department Dolphin Doeman reported that his team of 10 firefighters from the Montego Bay Fire Station brought the fire under control and were carrying out cooling down operations at the time of the tour.
Doeman said that his team, with the assistance of the NSWMA and WPM, was seeking to bring the smoke nuisance to a halt over the weekend.