The Burning

Another beautiful Sunday morning in Kingston city. White wing doves coo. Leaves flutter. The sky an ineffable blue, filled with liquid sunshine.

And yet, there is darkness on the horizon. What is this? Oh, the city dump is on fire again. Below please find a few of the many online comments from long-suffering Kingston residents, and photographs tweeted throughout the morning – not in any chronological order. These all speak for themselves.

First, here’s a quote from my blog post of four days ago. How ironic!  Oh! Our city dump is operating illegally… As we would say in social media, “smh.” I truly wonder about this government agency called the National Environment & Planning Agency (NEPA). I would also love to get some information on the air quality in the city from them. Does NEPA measure air quality?” [I partly wrote this because I have had respiratory problems – previously unheard of – for the past two or three months – I wake up coughing every night].

More comments and photos…

Tyres on fire at Riverton City dump.
Tyres on fire at Riverton City dump.
  • So, regarding our concerns about Climate Change and the environment?
Caption: OMG!!
Caption: OMG!!
  • ODPEM says KGN air quality is acceptable. Really ODPEM? Really? Says me- locked inside cause smoke still burns eyes/chest!
Heading for the hills...
Heading for the hills… Photo taken from Red Hills.
  • Diana McCaulay: The latest Riverton fire is lack of accountability in government made visible and breathable.
Washington Boulevard, around 11:00 a.m.
Washington Boulevard, around 11:00 a.m.
  • Clyde Williams: Riverton landfill fire could give rise to constitutional challenge under new Chapter Three of Jamaican Constitution. (Speaking on Radio Jamaica’s live program “It’s a Rap.”)
  • Those poor people that are breathing the riverton air regardless of todays fire…Tragedy. Victims of the system. A probably dem light it…
  • They should get out of there somehow. Maybe NEPA can bus them out to somewhere they can breathe? #Rivertonresidents
  • National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) advises the tyre cell at Riverton is burning. Non existent management and enforcement of laws – it was bound to happen.
  • Diana McCaulay: You would never believe we have a constitutional right to a healthy environment in Jamaica. But we do…Could ODPEM please tell us what air quality tests have been done and where in Kingston they were taken?? 
  • Washington Gardens.
    Washington Gardens.
Caption: Looks like a atomic bomb drop over there #mushroomcloud #rivertonfire
Caption: Looks like a atomic bomb drop over there #mushroomcloud #rivertonfire


  • A wah really a gwaan down a Riverton doh? SMH
  • I didn’t even realize it was that time of year…for the Annual Ritual Riverton City Fire Festival.


  • Jamaica Observer report: KINGSTON, Jamaica – Executive Director of the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) Jennifer Edwards is confirming that there is a fire now raging at the Riverton City Landfill in St Andrew. 

According to Edwards the fire started at approximately 7:00 am this morning in an area adjacent to where tyres are usually stored. Teams from the Jamaica Fire Brigade, Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) and the NSWMA are on location working to extinguish the fire.

The NSWMA head issued the following warning. “Persons in and around the area with respiratory issues should ensure that they take all the necessary precautions.”

She also apologized for the inconvenience and wish to assure our citizens that we are working hard to ensure that the period of inconvenience is minimized.

OBSERVER ONLINE readers indicate that there is a huge plume of smoke that has enveloped the area, which can be seen from miles away.

Photo taken from West Kirkland Heights.
Photo taken from West Kirkland Heights.
The "inconvenience" photographed from Washington Boulevard.
The “inconvenience” photographed from Washington Boulevard.

10 thoughts on “The Burning

    1. Wow. You had a tire factory burn down? I must look that up. It is horrible. I have actually been coughing all day and I am nowhere near the dump and can’t see the smoke from our house. But I know the pollution is in the air we breathe. Jamaica Environment Trust are conducting some basic air quality tests around Riverton and are looking for people who live in the area to help… It is ironic that only last week I asked if anyone was monitoring the air quality in Kingston (we never hear anything about it). I am convinced it’s getting worse…


  1. This is not good at all for the health of persons residing close to the landfill and its surrounding environs. I always wonder why the landfill is religiously ablaze around this time each year. For each Riverton Landfill fire, the story is always the same with people pointing fingers at who should have done what or who did what. As for the Government showing care for the environment, i can recall one Minister’s remark that we cannot let a few lizards deter us from development (not an exact quote but the reference was made re: Goat Island initiative). For me, this remark was food for thought.


    1. Oh yes, there is always plenty of finger-pointing. No one wants to take responsibility. The head of NSWMA would not even come on the radio to discuss the management of the site this morning, saying that ODPEM could speak for her. Ma’am, they are the emergency services; your agency is responsible for the dump itself! Right? Then the NWC chairman brushed aside the Fire Brigade’s complaints about the 7 3/4 hour delay in getting water trucked as “blame game” tactics! Hello, I thought this was a multi-agency Emergency Protocol that was enacted yesterday, many hours after the fire started by the way. Incompetence all round, and lack of caring, as you say. (Yes, the “two likkle lizard” remark showed so much contempt for our environment didn’t it!) And the Environment Minister is silent, as always.


    1. That’s crazy. Problem for us is that it’s an annual occurrence. Yes, at least once a year! The government agencies supposedly responsible are not doing their job in regulating it. Thanks for this link. On top of the threat of a coal-fired power plant to be built by the Chinese on our little island, it’s all very depressing.


    1. I truly don’t know. What would it take? An environmental crisis of catastrophic proportions? A tsunami? A major smog settling over Kingston for days? And yet our Minister of Environment and Climate Change says absolutely nothing. It is sheer disrespect, I feel (and for those living in and near Riverton City it must be unmitigated hell).


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