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Beetham smokes ‘chokes’ L’tille

By Sasha Harrinanan Monday, February 3 2014

Although a mere five percent of the Beetham Landfill in Port-of-Spain (PoS) was still on fire yesterday, compared to the 12 fires which were blazing across the site one week ago, several residents of Laventille yesterday morning complained of toxic smoke affecting their neighbourhood.

Erica, a resident of Trou Macaque, Laventille, told Newsday “the whole place was ‘chokey’ with smoke. This was the first time we were affected by the smoke from those fires. It ‘ent’ smelling nice at all.”

Another Trou Macaque resident, Tyrone, said he first smelt a foul odour at 5 am yesterday but didn’t actually go outside until 6.30 am.

“The whole yard was full of smoke,” he recalled. “It smelled really, really bad so we put on all the fans at home to try and get rid of the ‘stinkness.’ We accustomed to getting the bad smell every now and this was the first time we got the smoke and the bad smell together.”

Neither Erica nor Tyrone complained of the smoke affecting them physically but at least one woman from Lady Young Avenue, Morvant complained about how the smokey atmosphere was “burning” her nose. The woman, who did not give her name, said the area was “thick with smoke” and visibility was low.

Some persons questioned why the fires were still burning since they recalled the authorities promising the flames would be extinguished on Sunday.

However Nalini Sooklal, chairman of the Solid Waste Management Company Limited (SWMCOL), was reported to have said last Friday that the remaining fire would be extinguished by today, not yesterday.

Newsday visited the Beetham Landfill yesterday, where Minister of the Environment and Water Resources, Ganga Singh, was observing the use of water trucks from the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) to douse the flames affecting an estimated five percent of the landfill.

Singh praised two SWMCOL employees based at the site, identified as Michael and Augustus, as well as WASA’s operations manager, Steve Joseph, for their “combined efforts to solve the fire.”

“Today we used 25,000 gallons to soak the place. WASA previously used 80,000, so that’s 105,000 gallons of water into the dump. The Fire Services indicated they couldn’t bring in heavy equipment, and I understand that, but we have been able to use heavy water trucks from WASA to soak the affected areas with gallons of water, day and night, over the past two days.”

Singh also told Newsday he expected the fire to be completely out by this morning.

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