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Arsonists blamed for fire at Riverton landfill in Kingston

Published:Sunday | March 16, 2014 | 5:01 PM

Arsonists have been blamed for the fire that engulfed a section of the Riverton landfill in Kingston early this morning, forcing the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) to activate its emergency system.

ODPEM Director General Richard Thompson says the fire, which produced plumes of thick, black smoke that shot into the air, is contained to a tyre cell on the landfill. He says the fire appears to have been started by arsonists and the situation is being treated as a national disaster.

The ODPEM, in a release this afternoon, says a team comprising representatives from the Jamaica Fire Brigade, the Jamaica Defense Force, the National Solid Waste Management Agency, the National Environment and Planning Agency, The Kingston and St Andrew Cooperation, Petrojam Limited, the National Water Commission, Airports Authority of Jamaica, the Office of the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing, The Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Local Government, was working to bring the blaze under control.

It says the Jamaica Fire Brigade dispatched seven water engines with aerial ladders, foam and tractors that are compacting dirt, while on-the-ground personnel continue to monitor the situation.

Further, the ODPEM says "the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), 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)."

In light of the resulting impact on the health of residents in and around the landfill, ODPEM and the Ministry of Health are advising persons who continue to be affected by the fire to:

- Avoid or reduce exposure to smoke by closing window 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 elderly and young.

- Cover nose and mouth with a clean wet rag or cloth to minimize effects of the smoke.

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

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

The ODPEM says it will continue to monitor the situation and issue bulletins as necessary. For further information on health advice and issues persons should dial toll free 1-888-663-5683.


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