Smoke from Retirement dump fire annoys residents

MONTEGO BAY, St James — Residents of Montego West Village were annoyed over the smoke nuisance caused from yesterday morning’s fire at the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA)-operated Retirement landfill in St James.

One irate public sector worker who resides at the gated complex — situated south of the Montego Bay commercial district — complained bitterly over the long-standing issue of smoke nuisance from the dump. The resident said he was fed up with the situation, which Government announced measures to address following the 2019 outbreak of fire at the solid waste disposal site.

Months after the May 2019 fire at the facility, Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie announced a raft of measures that were put in, which would place the NSWMA in a better position to respond to any possible outbreak of fire at the Retirement disposal site.

“The smoke greeted me as I opened the door this (yesterday) morning. From the smell of the smoke I knew immediately that it was coming from the dump again. We had to ensure that all windows were locked,” the government worker complained.

“They (NSWMA) definitely have to put better measures in place to prevent that because we heard from the last time that certain measures would have been put in place so that even if a small fire start it would automatically stop,” he added.

Another infuriated resident chimed in: “This is definitely not good for your health, especially in this time for persons who have COVID and is affected by breathing problems”.

Yesterday, a release from Western Parks and Market (WPM), the regional arm of the NSWMA, explained that they were alerted to a fire at the facility at around 2:00 am yesterday morning..

“The JFB (Jamaica Fire Brigade) was subsequently notified and units were dispatched to the site. Currently, there is smoke emanating from the area and heavy-duty equipment are on site working assiduously to suppress it,” a section of the release stated.

The NSWMA noted that “preliminary reports indicated the fire was caused by spontaneous combustion”.

“We acknowledge the vulnerability for spontaneous combustion at our disposal facilities and have put the necessary measures in place to ensure that cover material is stockpiled at all our sites to enable us to contain and subsequently extinguish these fires rapidly,” head of the NSWMA, Audley Gordon, said.

Yesterday, Garnet Edmondson, WPM regional operations manager, who apologised to residents for the inconvenience caused by the smoke nuisance, promised the residents that by the end of the day the problem would be abated.

“Let me use this opportunity to apologise on behalf of the entire National Solid Waste Agency …we want to extend our sincere apologies to the residents in western Jamaica; this is not something that we want to happen. We all understand that these things are common to landfills. All over the world you have spontaneous combustion at landfills,” Edmondson said.

“I want to say thanks to the fire department for their quick response. They were there within 15 minutes of our call. So we are really thankful for them partnering with us this (yesterday) morning,” Edmonson said.

There were no smoke seen coming from the dump late yesterday afternoon.

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