Ministry of Health not ruling out legal action against NSWMA

Health Minister Dr. Christopher Tufton


The Ministry of Health is not ruling out possible legal proceedings against the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) based on the findings of the air quality report released on Tuesday by the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA).

Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton told RJR News that any such decision will be based on an analysis of the report.

NEPA's study was conducted during and after last month’s fire at the Riverton City disposal site, which blanketed the Kingston Metropolitan Area with smoke for several days.

Among other things, it concluded that the fire resulted in deteriorated air quality that affected Southern St. Andrew and Kingston as well as sections of South Eastern St. Catherine.

It also found that elevated levels of certain gases and particulate matter could have resulted in some adverse health conditions.

“The Ministry does have the responsibility and some authority under the Public Health Act to take assertive action where health quality is compromised,” he said Tuesday on RJR’s Beyond the Headlines.

Accordingly, he said, the Ministry will examine the report and determine whether the pollutants cited in the report are still present, and if so, “we can be as extreme as serving notice and essentially prosecuting… the operating agency.”

Acknowledging that this would be action initiated by one government agency against another, he asserted that the Ministry of Health has a responsibility “to the greater public health and wellness.”

Nevertheless, he acknowledged that inter-agency dialogue was the more desirable option.


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