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Singh: Fires deliberately set

By Kim Boodram

ENVIRONMENT Minister Ganga Singh said yesterday that the latest set of fire at the Beetham landfill appear to have been “deliberately set”.

He had said the fires in January were also deliberately set.

Singh’s statements follow two recent blazes at the landfill, last Friday and Sunday, the origins of which the State  agency responsible for the site, the Solid Waste Management Company Limited (SWMCOL), is yet to make a pronouncement on.

Speaking with the media during the tea-break of yesterday’s Senate sitting, Singh said there are ongoing security issues with the people who scavenge at the landfill and he had hoped that management would have found solutions by now.

The landfill was in January the scene of a rash of fires that took over a week to extinguish and Singh had said then that too “laissez-faire” an approach was being take to the site. He repeated this statement yesterday and said:

“I think a different management system has to be taken. I think the situation cannot be allowed to continue.”

SWMCOL was up to late yesterday working control Sunday’s fire, which left Port of Spain and environs, as far as the Mt. Hope area, under a bitter haze of smoke.

The conditions from Sunday were however considerably less severe than those experienced in January, when the Environmental Management Authority (EMA), had at one time found elevated levels of toxins in the air. Tests on Monday showed no such conditions to have been created by the latest blaze.

The smoke emanating from Sunday’s blaze also caused poor visibility on the Beetham highway up to late Monday evening.

January’s fires also saw the landfill closed for almost a week and reopened under heightened security.

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