By AVA TURNQUEST
Tribune Staff Reporter
FUMES from the ongoing city dump fire forced the closure of another two schools as winds pushed smoke northeast over New Providence yesterday.
Light winds are forecast to shift southwest for the rest of the week, according to meteorological office officials, who explained that smoke would likely settle in areas adjacent to the dump site as a result.
The Anglican Central Education Authority moved to close St John’s College after the school’s clinic was flooded with students suffering from various respiratory ailments, especially asthma.
The Board’s Deputy Director of Education, Italia Davies said: “The school was inundated by smoke coming from the dump. We made an onsite visit and the clinic was filled with students suffering from smoke inhalation, complaints of headaches, sinus problems, and asthma. After a walkabout of the campus, we had only been there a few minutes and already our throats were sore and given the student complaints we decided it was the best for all to close for the day.”
Mrs Davies said officials will monitor conditions to determine whether or not the closure will continue today.
According to the Ministry of Education, HO Nash Junior High School was also closed yesterday, and administrators of public schools in surrounding areas were given clearance to suspend classes at their discretion.
Last night, Fire Chief Walter Evans confirmed that the site was still emitting “heavy plumes” in the wake of two separate fires that broke out at the landfill earlier this month.
“The fire is still ongoing, and subsequently there is smoke over the general area of the dump. It’s a contained fire, but it’s a landfill fire and not like surface-burning fires so that’s why there is so much smoke,” Mr Evans said.
Since March 6, firefighters also battled a third blaze at the Septic and Sludge Facility of the Water and Sewerage Corporation, which is only a few miles away from the City Dump.
Last week, officials from both Aquinas College at Gladstone Road and the Meridian School at Unicorn Village, just off JFK Drive, confirmed that the air quality was too poor to allow students to continue attending classes on Friday.
Calls placed to the Department of Environmental Health Services for an update on the matter were unreturned up to press time.
Last week, deputy director Thomasina Wilson said that the fire and thick smoke in several areas was no reason for residents to evacuate their homes.
Ms Wilson said people needed only to keep their windows closed, adding that officials saw no need for tests to be carried out to determine the toxicity of the air.