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No rise in harmful pollutants from Beetham fires—EMA

Published: 
Tuesday, May 20, 2014

There are no “elevated levels” of air pollutants in Sea Lots, Beetham, Laventille and Port-of-Spain as a result of the fire that blazed at the Beetham Landfill up to yesterday, says the Environmental Management Authority (EMA). In a press release yesterday, EMA communications officer Amrita Maharaj-Dube said that air-quality monitoring tests done by the authority in areas affected by smoke revealed there was no increase in air pollutants.

 

The level of pollutants were measured against the Draft Air Pollution Rules that are yet to be laid in Parliament. More than a year ago, Junior Minister of the Environment Ramona Ramdial said the rules would be laid in Parliament “soon”, a promise echoed by Minister of the Environment, Ganga Singh, earlier this year after a number of fires were set in the landfill, causing smog to hang over the city. Despite assurances that pollution levels were not “elevated”, at least one school in the Port-of-Spain area, Success Laventille Secondary School, was dismissed early because of smoke. By midday, the effects of the smoke had lessened, with only a light layer seen lingering above buildings.

 

SWMCOL: It’s under control 

Communications manager at the Solid Waste Management Company Ltd (SWMCOL), George Elias, said the fires at the Beetham Landfill were largely under control and should be completely contained by tomorrow . The landfill has been shut down and is expected to reopen tomorrow. “We expect the situation to be under control before Wednesday but we would have to ensure that it isn’t underground and make preparations for the landfill to be reopened,” Elias said. With the landfill closed, all garbage and waste materials are being sent to the Guanapo and Forres Park dump sites.

Elias said an investigation into the cause of the fire would begin once the situation is under full control. SWMCOL said it was confident the fires would be extinguished by today. Director of the National Security Operations Centre (NOC), Commander Garvin Heerah said the NOC and the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM) would be working with all other agencies to put out the fires. Heerah said an emergency meeting was held yesterday at the NOC to discuss and provide an update on the Beetham Landfill fire. “The TTFS and SWMCOL took the lead and advised on the situation. The EMA will be conducting air quality tests and the San  Juan Regional Corporation will be supporting with all available resources.”

 

Heerah said police had increased patrols in and around the area and would mobilise additional manpower during the peak after-work traffic hours, to ensure traffic management. The Defence Force Air Guard is on standby to deploy helicopters and bambi buckets if the need arises, while the NOC Air Division will maintain aerial surveillance of the area.

 

NP head office shut

NP’s head office at Sea Lots closed yesterday, the company said in a release, because it had been negatively affected by the excessive smoke from the landfill. The company said arrangements were in place to ensure the continued delivery of fuel, but there were no further sales of lubricants or LPG cylinders from Sea Lots for the remainder of the day.