Varying Measures in Motion to Tackle Landfill Problems
The Environment and Housing Minister presented short, medium and long-term measures to address the problems at the New Providence Landfill during his contribution to the 2017/18 Budget Debate at the House of Assembly on Thursday.
Minister Romauld Ferreira noted that in assuming office he recognised that the landfill would be one of his most pressing matters to address. For years successive governments have failed to properly manage and create an effective fully engineered landfill. On March 5, a massive bush fire that began behind a local business spreading to the periphery of the landfill and quickly advancing to neighboring communities resulted in the evacuations of nearby residents. The fire burned for nearly month. A subsequent preliminary report from the Pan American Health Organization indicated serious health impacts on residents in the area.
In the interim, Minister Ferreira said a communication programme focusing on health implications from the fires at the landfill would commence. He said refresher training courses in the handling of hazardous waste and use of personal protective equipment would be offered for workers from the Department of Environmental Health Services attached to the landfill who were all previously trained under the Solid Waste Management Project. The Environment and Housing Minister revealed that enhanced and constant monitoring would take place along with the provision for pay loaders and protective equipment for first responders to prevent fires and fight any ensuing fires. Further, Minister Ferreira said the landfill in Grand Bahama and other landfills will be studied to create a feasible plan for the New Providence Landfill.
“Once this plan has been agreed, a new request for proposal (RFP) for the management of the landfill will be issued,” he said.
Minister Ferreira said the RFP will take into account policies and regulations for non-recyclable, non-decomposable and hazardous waste all focused on proper engineering of the New Providence Landfill.
He said medium term goals entail emergency plans being formulated in consultation with the wider community and a national public awareness campaign in conjunction with the Water and Sewerage Corporation to discourage the use of private wells.
Regarding long-term goals, Minister Ferreira announced that the government of The Bahamas would correct the septage and sludge handling facility located next to the landfill and install ambient air monitoring to better assess the impact of the environment and human health.
Minister Ferreira pledged that once the RFP process is completed he would inform Bahamian citizens of the results.