Fire hinders waste disposal for Business sector on Nevis; Solid Waste Management Authority official calls for tolerance
An official of the Nevis Solid Waste Management Authority has called for tolerance from members of the business sector, who have not had access to the Low Ground Landfill since a fire was deliberately set by an unknown person or persons last week.
The Authority’s General Manager Mrs. Carlyn Lawrence told the Department of Information on Wednesday during a visit to the only legal waste facility on the island, that the landfill has had to be closed to private waste haulers due to the hazardous smoke cause by the fire which continued to burn four days after it was set.
“We ask the public to please cooperate and especially the business public that would have waste to dispose, to do their best to keep that waste contained until the announcement is made that we can receive it…
“So as soon as we are able to make it a bit safer for the public to gain access to the property we will do so and we will make that announcement via the airwaves and the media that is available to us,” she said.
Notwithstanding, the fire had not disrupted daily garbage collections by the Authority even though some of their manpower had been redirected to assist with containing the fire.
Up to Wednesday, heavy equipment donated by corporate citizen Lefco Equipment and another from the Agriculture Department were seen moving earth in an attempt to extinguish the fires which were started above ground but had moved underground.
Mrs. Lawrence described the fire as an unfortunate situation which she said had many dangerous implications.
“A landfill fire is very dangerous, very hard to extinguish once it gets started because of the methane gas and other chemicals that are naturally generated in a landfill. As a result of that, the flames once they were set, has the fuel here to keep it burning. So it is a very difficult task to try to extinguish the fire completely.
“We run a lot of dangers to human health as well and to the environment with the toxic smoke being released into the atmosphere and we cannot have our staff inhaling the smoke for any prolonged period of time. We also run the risk of the fire now becoming a sub underground fire where it can damage the lining that has been placed there to protect the soil from contamination,” she said.
Mrs. Lawrence noted that there were many dynamics involved in the situation and it was the opinion of the Fire Department and the Authority that the fire was set above ground and deliberately set and advised members of the public to desist from such actions in the future.
“We just want to advice persons please not to engage in this type of malicious and destructive behaviour because where it might enter someone’s mind that they would just be burning up the garbage and it will be over.
“It is a lot more complicated than that because this fire can continue to burn for weeks and so we really have been bringing in dirt and cover material,” she said.
Mrs. Lawrence said they were praying for a heavy downpour of rain which she explained would help the Authority make better advanced in their battle against the fire.