$25 million in damages being paid to people affected by Riverton fire

SEVERAL anguished residents who took legal action against the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) for their suffering resulting from fires at the Riverton disposal site in St Andrew in 2012 and again in 2015 are to receive compensation totalling just under $25 million.

The settlement is among two approved by the Cabinet this week. The first instance saw Cabinet giving approval for the settlement and financial support of claims in the amount of $4.57 million to the NSWMA arising from a fire at the disposal site in February 2012, which lasted several days, with the smoke abatement process lasting approximately 17 days.

Thick persistent smoke and resultant toxic fumes blanketed entire communities in the parishes of St Catherine, St Andrew, and Kingston and produced a nuisance to several communities. The claimants sustained personal injuries, loss, damage and incurred expenses. They took legal actions, the results of which found that the NSWMA had breached its obligations under the NSWMA Act 2001 by failing to take the necessary steps for the effective management of solid waste at the disposal site in order to safeguard the public health.

In the second instance, Cabinet also gave approval for the settlement and financial support of claims in the amount of $20.4 million arising from a fire at the site on February 6, 2012 and March 7, 2015.

Several residents in 2017 filed a claim, through their attorneys, alleging that the fire was ignited on March 7 and continued until around the 29th of the month, producing a nuisance to several communities, during which they sustained personal injuries, loss, damage, and incurred expenses.

A total of 21 people are to receive compensation in respect of the damages claimed for in the 2012 and 2015 fires.

— Alicia Dunkley-Willis

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