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Emergency plan activated as Riverton dump catches fire

Published:Monday | March 17, 2014 | 12:00 AM

The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) yesterday activated its National Emergency Protocol in response to a fire at the Riverton City Solid Waste Dump.

The blaze, which began early yesterday morning and is believed to have been started by arsonists, prompted a response from the Jamaica Fire Brigade, the Jamaica Defence Force and other agencies.

In an attempt to bring the blaze under control, the Jamaica Fire Brigade dispatched seven water engines with aerial ladders, foam, and tractors that were compacting dirt, while on-the-ground personnel monitored the situation.

The National Environment and Planning Agency, in addition to regular licensed private air-quality monitoring systems, has established seven other points strategically located at Hope Road and Hope Pastures, Cross Roads, Portmore, Spanish Town Road, Washington Gardens, and Red Hills (measuring particulate matter: volatile organics 2.5).

ODPEM and the Ministry of Health yesterday advised that persons being affected by the fire adhere to the following measures:

a) Avoid or reduce exposure to smoke by closing windows and doors, and remain indoors as much as possible. This is especially so for those persons who suffer from allergies, asthma, and other respiratory conditions; and the elderly and the young.

b) Cover nose and mouth with a clean wet rag or cloth to minimise effects of the smoke.

c) Avoid exposing laundry outdoors since these can become contaminated, stained and foul smelling.

d) Visit the nearest health facility or doctor if you start having shortness of breath, wheezing or severe coughing, especially those with respiratory illnesses.