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'Please save us from this dump'

Residents, pupils sickened by fumes

By Carolyn Kissoon carolyn.kissoon@trinidadexpress.com

THE young and elderly living in Springvale Valley in Claxton Bay are falling ill from the smoke billowing from the Forres Park landfill.

The Springvale Hindu School was closed at midday yesterday, as pupils complained of the pungent smoke. The nearby Springvale Government Early Childhood Care Education Centre (ECCE) was also shut down.

Residents complained that their lives have been disrupted by the thick smoke, which has become an annual occurrence. They complained of nausea, vomiting, itching, burning eyes and headaches.

Resident Arnold Brown said he was frustrated that nothing was being done about the smoke.

"Every year around this time we get this. The smoke is coming from the landfill. And when the rainy season comes around, the scent is unbearable," he said.

Brown's grandson, Kevon, said his class was disrupted by the smoke yesterday.

"I am in Standard Five and today we had to stop our work and leave the school because the smoke was too much," he said.

Brown said ambulance personnel visited the area last week Saturday to attend to residents who complained of feeling unwell.

"But we cannot do this every year, something needs to be done," he said.

Carl Lackhee, an elderly man, said his eyes were affected by the smoke.

"This dump is affecting us badly. People are getting sick. Look at my eyes. I can't see properly. I think I need to be compensated for this. I feel sorry for those children at the school. They always have to be closing the school early. This is dangerous to our health, it is too long now," he said.

Lackhee, 78, called on the authorities to take action.

"Do something about this dump. We complaining all these years and no one hearing us. The politicians come here for our vote and when we tell them they ignore us," he said. Councillor Gangaram Gopaul said he sympathised with the residents.

"I know it is really bad and the residents have been complaining over the years.

This morning we had a meeting with the ODPM (Office of Disaster preparedness and Management), SWMCOL (Solid Waste Management Company Limited) and other agencies to come up with a plan to ease the problem for these residents," he said.

Gopaul said residents were being monitored by medical doctors and officials from the Couva/Tabaquite/Talparo Regional Corporation.

Officials at SWMCOL, which operates the landfill, declined comment.

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