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Opinion, Opinion

EDITORIAL: Rubbish Dump Fire A Major Health Risk

EDITORIAL: Rubbish Dump Fire A Major Health Risk
The catastrophe waiting to happen is that with more rubbish entering the dump site each day, an even bigger fire is bound to happen in the future and this could cause an even bigger health risk to everyone.
December 05
15:11 2017

The Vunato rubbish dump in Lautoka is a catastrophe waiting to explode.

A fire at the dump site has been raging for the past five days and with the heavy downpour experienced on Sunday night in the Sugar City, one would think this would have extinguished the fire.

But yesterday smoke continued to be emitted which showed that the problem was below all the piles of plastic bags and other rubbish there.

For the past three days, all of the Matawalu, Drasa, Vitogo and Lovu areas and some parts of Lautoka were covered in smoke, posing a dangerous health risk to people.

On Monday it caused some traffic problems along the Kings Highway just outside of Lautoka with limited visibility for drivers.

The fire has been put down to one or several aimless people setting fire to the rubbish without realising the consequences.

The main problem is that the fire that is still burning beneath the piles of rubbish can’t be immediately extinguished.

The catastrophe waiting to happen is that with more rubbish entering the dump site each day, an even bigger fire is bound to happen in the future and this could cause an even bigger health risk to everyone.

The main problem lies with the use of ordinary plastic bags to store rubbish and then taken to the dump.

Should the fee of 10 cents that is presently being charged by supermarkets and other outlets be increased to 20 cents to discourage people from utilising these plastic bags when shopping?

Or should the Lautoka City Council look at digging deep holes to bury the rubbish, leaving little chance of fires being lit?

The council has been doing its best to keep people out of the dump sites, but scavengers continue to sift through the mountains of rubbish each day.

Residents of HART Housing in Lovu said they have had to close their doors and windows when the winds blow the smoke their way.

This has had a double effect on them as the extremely hot weather in the Western Division has added to the misery with the windows being closed.

Something has to be done now as the smoke seems to be increasing each time the dump is set aflame.

If it has taken five days to try and extinguish the fire and this has not been done, the fire will continue into next week.

All efforts must now be thrown in to completely put that fire out. For if people start getting sick or face breathing problems from the smoke, then we will have a major problem in our hands.

Those council workers and National Fire Authority personnel who have been struggling to extinguish the fire must be commended for their efforts, but this must be taken up to another level.

Source information from experts in other countries who have had this problem and let’s not rely on what we think should be done.

The people of Lautoka, and especially those living outside the city area from Lovu to Matawalu deserve much cleaner air to breath.

Feedback:  charles.chambers@fijisun.com.fj

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