Honourable Noel Arscott, Minister of Local Government and Community Development along with Executive Director of the National Solid Waste Management Authority and other officials visited the Riverton Landfill on Monday May 5, 2014. Residents have been inconvenienced by smoke resulting from the recent fire at the landfill – allegedly by arsonists. Monday’s visit provided an opportunity to look at the work in progress and examine some possible steps that could yield improvements for the landfill.
Executive Director of the National Solid Waste Management Authority, Jennifer Edwards reported that the entire area of the landfill that was on fire has been covered. Ms. Edwards made it clear that they are very determined to meet as many of the requirements laid out by the National Environment and Planning Agency. They have already begun the water quality testing process and they are working along with NEPA and other entities to look at air quality monitoring. The Executive Director also pointed out that approximately 25 acres of the landfill has already been covered and once the rest is covered they will re-cell the site and; dependent on the resources they will do a weekly or monthly coverage. She further went on to say that in light of the difficulty to meet some of the requirements set out by the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), the NSWMA is lobbying the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development and other entities to see how they can assist them to comply but in the interim they will use the $61million in the budget to start the process.
Minister Arscott explained that the government is actively pursuing the possibility of the waste to energy facility which will result in proper management of the landfill and a reduction in the risk of fires. The Ministry is collaborating with the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining and the Ministry of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change to have this facility established. They are also trying to source enough funds to properly cover the area that in case another fire should occur, it will be easily contained. The amount of plastic containers observed on site was a cause for concern; the Minister took the opportunity to point out the need for more persons to reduce, reuse and recycle so as to lessen the amount of flammable waste that gets into the landfill, thus minimizing the possibilities of frequent fires. The Minister has promised to provide details of a more comprehensive approach to be taken when he speaks in the 2014/2015 Sectoral Debates.