September 24, 2020

The Editor Speaks: We are not alone with smoking open air waste dumps

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Colin Wilson2webDavid McFadden writing for Associated Press has penned an article published in Caribbean Life today (16) headed “Smoke blankets Jamaica’s capital as dump fire burns”

The article says:

“Thick, noxious smoke blanketed Jamaica’s capital Thursday as a wind-fanned fire burned at a sprawling, open-air waste dump on the city’s outskirts that has seen repeated blazes.

“Firefighters were trying to put out the fire as it billowed acrid smoke across Kingston and parts of neighboring St. Catherine parish. Schools closed and the government advised residents to stay indoors and close windows.

“Authorities said they had the dump fire contained, though plumes of gray smoke increased and shifted direction on a breezy day. Some people who had to venture outside in badly affected areas of Jamaica’s capital covered their nose and mouth with damp rags or handkerchiefs.

“For years, the Riverton City dump has seen repeated fires, exasperating residents who are concerned about the health effects of breathing in smoke and microscopic pollutants. There’s virtually no control over what is dumped, so all manner of industrial and commercial waste burns when fires start, often sparked by arsonists. The last major fire at the dump, in April 2014, burned for nearly two weeks and sent an increased number of people with respiratory distress to health clinics.”

To read the whole article go to: http://www.caribbeanlifenews.com/stories/2015/3/2015-03-13-ap-jamaicafire-cl_2015_3.html

What is interesting in this article is it goes on to say the “Environment Minister Robert Pickersgill acknowledged the situation affected public health”.

“Diana McCaulay, chief of the nonprofit Jamaica Environment Trust, said there has clearly been a longstanding failure to manage solid waste on the island.

‘“The dump fire is a serious risk to public health and it is simply not enough to say the fire will soon be out. The people responsible should be held accountable,” McCaulay said in a Thursday email.”

I cannot remember any government official or Public Health spokesperson in the Cayman Islands saying our George Town dump fires are a serious risk to public health even when the tyres were burning.

I don’t believe any monitoring by government officials to check the levels of any volatile organic compounds that may be emanating from our dump has been executed, or if it has no one has ‘breathed’ a word.

The cancer-causing chemical benzene was detected at three times the World Health Organization’s air standard at the Jamaican Riverton City Dump.

I cannot believe for one minute our dump doesn’t or never has given off similar toxic compounds.

Our government is silent on the matter. We are not alone to the smoke though. And the smoke screen being put up whilst the government get the right study to eventually solve our problem. All of us who live around Mount Trashmore might be long dead or have our names on the mandatory cancer list!

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