Sunday, May 14, 2017

Fears over Central landfill

For families living downwind of the Forres Park landfill in Claxton Bay, some dry seasons have been unbearable.

The elderly and young ones are removed from the commu­nities as thick, black smoke blankets the area for days, sometimes weeks.

However, despite their frustrations, residents of Springvale and Diamond Village have grown accustomed to the lifestyle.

Many residents believe the situation would never change as the problem has existed for more than two decades.

Now, the residents are faced with a new concern that lead from the landfill may be seeping into the water courses, posing “a potential ecological disaster”.

Solid Waste Management Ltd (Swmcol) appeared before the Public Accounts Enterprises Committee on Wednesday where its CEO, Ronald Roach, stated that in October 2014, The University of the West Indies (The UWI) had conducted an extensive study of the water quality in and around the Guanapo landfill site and had identified lead in the surrounding watercourses.

Roach said while The UWI study was only done at Guanapo, there were similar problems of leachate at the Beetham landfill and at the Forres Park landfill.

Nothing done


Pointe-a-Pierre MP David Lee has called on the Government to say what would be done to remedy the situation in the shortest possible time. And residents should be tested immediately for lead poisoning, he said.

“So we are calling on the authorities to let the country know what course of action they are going to take to remedy this situation in the shortest possible time, and the healthcare centres where people can go to be tested for lead poisoning.”

Lee said he was concerned the report was conducted back in 2014 and nothing was done to improve the situation.

“It is very concerning that the Solid Waste Management Ltd never took the necessary steps before, and this had to come out in a Parliament committee to the country. I would like to ask what corrective measures are they going to be taking with quick action for the country because this is fearful information that has come out in the public domain yesterday,” he said.

Lee said he was also concerned about the disposal of expired drugs. “Do we dump it in the landfill and is that another aspect of where seepage can occur into the lands and into the waste waters? We have a concern of that,” he said.

Smoke inhalation


And he appealed to Swmcol to take appropriate steps to lessen the fires which are expected to happen at the Forres Park landfill during the dry season.

Springvale and Diamond Village residents said they understood it was difficult to relocate the landfill, but questioned whether the Government was concerned about their health.

Tests conducted by the Environmental Environment Authority (EMA) over the years revealed there were no toxins in the atmosphere. But no reports were revealed on tests in the nearby watercourses, residents said.

Last year, a medical team visited the area and found 20 people suffering from smoke inhalation.

And classes at the nearby Springvale Hindu School were disrupted annually during the dry season because of smoke from the landfill.

An official said he was now concerned about the latest findings and called on the authorities to act quickly to resolve the issue.