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2 of 12 fires remain burning at Beetham

By Essiba Small essiba.small@trinidadexpress.com

Only two of the 12 fires set at the Beetham landfill last Sunday remained burning yesterday with one of the fires  60 per cent contained.

However, Solid Waste Management Company Limited (SWMCOL), under which the landfill falls, couldn’t say how soon the task will be completed.

Bulletin three, issued by the company yesterday, stated it continues to press ahead with its efforts to put out the final two affective areas. 

SWMCOL completed the first phase of air quality testing and began the second phase of the exercise yesterday, the bulletin added.

“It should however be noted that our successes to date have significantly alleviated the smoke problem in Port of Spain and environs. We will continue to update the public as progress is made towards our ultimate goal,” the release stated.

The unplanned fires started after a Beetham man was shot by the police in the vicinity of the landfill last Sunday  but it is not known whether they were deliberately set. 

The thick smog that greeted commuters coming into the city on Monday was gone yesterday, with visibility significantly improved along the highway corridor.

In an interview with I95.5 fm yesterday,  Alison Awai, SWMCOL’s corporate communications specialist, said landfill fires are a dynamic environment and that while there is always room for spontaneous combustion, it was unusual that 12 fires occurred simultaneously .

“Containing these fires have become extremely difficult because of the numbers of fires on the site,” Awai said.

The odours from the burning of the Beetham landfill has in the past resulted in runny noses and eyes and sore throats.  

Chief executive officer of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM), Dr Stephen Ramroop, said yesterday that the removal of the Beetham landfill should be considered, adding that it would be in the best interest of the city.

He said the ODPM has been weighing proposals in this regard.

“There are things we would have to advise, a lot of it would depend on the tests,” Ramroop said.

“Long term, clearly, would be to remove the landfill. We have had two proposals coming in from abroad  - one from New York and one from India in which they are suggesting that we can convert the waste to energy and remove the landfill totally from that area,” he added.

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