Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Noel Arscott, says the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) has activated its emergency powers and has called in the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) to assist in bringing the fire at the Riverton Landfill under control.
He also pointed out that the Ministry of Health has been active in the affected zone, sending out advisories, informing residents with respiratory problems to avoid the area as much as possible or to seek medical help if they become ill.
Speaking at a meeting of the St. Catherine Parish Council in Spanish Town on February 9, the Minister said it is estimated that it will cost about $60 million to bring the fire under control.
Mr. Arscott said it is projected that the fire, which has been burning for four days, should be tamed in another two or three days.
The Minister explained that the fire is proving to be very challenging, as debris are scattered all over the landfill and the wind is causing the fire to spread in all directions.
Mr. Arscott said the fire is nearing a dangerous phase, as there is a section of the landfill that houses tyres, and if the flames reach that area, it could be very serious.
“If we’re not able to control it in seven days and it spreads to where we have thousands of tyres stored, then we would have a major problem on our hands,” the Minister said.
Mr. Arscott is scheduled to visit the landfill today (February 10), after which he will host a press conference to give details of what is being done to put out the fire.
By O. Rodger Hutchinson, JIS PRO