Ian K Ramdhanie, msC,
Crews were up to late yesterday working round-the-clock to ensure the last fire at the Beetham landfill was completely extinguished, even as smoke continued to engulf Port-of-Spain, and had spread to parts of Barataria. Manager of the landfill Richard Warren said yesterday that workers were out as early as 3 am using heavy equipment. He said the odd showers also assisted, but it created some challenges by causing muddy roads.
“We have been here right through trying to get the last bit out...The rain has helped in that regard, but at the same time it made muddy roads which could be a challenge,” Warren said. He said he expected the situation to be “back to normal” by today. However, residents of Barataria, Cascade and Lady Young Avenue, Morvant, complained yesterday of heavy smoke affecting them, resulting in watery eyes and itchy throats. One resident said she was confused over whether the fires were under control or had restarted.
But Warren said this was because wind direction had changed the path of the smoke flow, which no one had control over, but noted that the smoke was not as thick as before.
Contacted yesterday, chief executive officer of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM), Dr Stephen Ramroop, said he was aware of the complaints of smoke. He said their call centre was bombarded with calls from people complaining about smoke coming from the east of the landfill, adding the weather conditions and wind pattern had caused this.
Ramroop said about 90 per cent of the fire had been extinguished, adding that crews from the Solid Waste Management Company (SWMCOL) were trying their best to out the remainder of the burning debris. “SWMCOL has really been trying but people have to remember that these fires are deep-seated,” he added.
On the issue of security, National Security Minister Gary Griffith yesterday said all the necessary steps have been put in place to ensure there are no further breaches of the law at the landfill. He said the cause of the 12 fires, which were reported by SWMCOL as maliciously set, was yet to be determined.