Clean Air Campaign Jamaica – The right to a healthy environment

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The Jamaica (Constitution) Order in Council 1962, Chapter III, Section 13, Sub-section 3 – (l), states;

the right to enjoy a healthy and productive environment free from the threat of injury or damage from environmental abuse and degradation of the ecological heritage;

By not ensuring clean air for its citizens, the Government of Jamaica (whomever is in power) is denying the inalienable rights under the Constitution; breaching the Clean Air Act (1964), the NRCA Act (1991), the NRCA (Air Quality) Regulations (2006), and several other regulations.

Sharp focus is usually placed on the sporadic air pollution discharges from the Riverton Dump, however more severe is the continuous discharges of Carbon Monoxide (CO), Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), Sulphur Dioxide (SO2), Particulate Matter (PM), and Total Suspended Particulate (TSP), from the many factories, industries, and manufacturing plants. These emitters are the true cause of the poor air quality in and around the Kingston Metropolitan Region. NEPA’s 2012 air quality report stated that there was an increase in the Particulate Matter in the atmosphere, and that this was 3-4 times the acceptable limits.

The National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), has enforced Air Pollutant Discharge Licenses on only some of these companies, which mandates them to do compliance monitoring (companies are allowed to collect their own data on air pollution discharges). Furthermore, this data only has to be checked once per year by NEPA, integrity of the data is impossible to be verified, and many of the pollutants are only checked and recorded every 6 days. This allows for the potential to cycle air pollution discharges around this 6-day interval, and never be found in breach of the regulations. In any case, NEPA does not have the facilities, capabilities, or equipment to verify or check some of these pollutants stipulated under the law; and their yearly air quality report admits that data from most of the monitoring stations have to be discarded due to being below the 75% collection threshold in respect to some pollutants.

What needs to be done?

  • NEPA must be mandated to enforce the regulations relating to the Clean Air Campaign which will ensure the government fulfills its constitutional duty to the People.
  • Include other areas of focus, not only Riverton, as major sources of air pollution, when the city is covered in smog on a daily basis without the dump being on fire. Enforce the regulations on the industries which are required by law to have an Air Pollutant Discharge License.
  • The OPM should realize that most environmental matters are going unchecked because of the absence of a dedicated Ministry, and act accordingly – as was, and is in all progressive countries.