Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 30th 2014 Contents Minimum wage still to be reviewed --- McLeod News --- Page A6
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fails to stop
Groups of hustlers, some barebacked, others
in shorts, and all without face masks, continued
to rummage through the Beetham landfill yes-
terday, hours after it was declared closed by Solid
Waste Management Company Ltd (SWMCOL) as
concerns over public health heightened.
The decision to close the dump was the result
of advice from the Environmental Management
Yesterday afternoon, however, trucks still operated
within the landfill and men were seen sorting
through garbage on the massive site, despite the
thick smoke emanating from heaps of garbage.
SWMCOL could not give an estimate of when
the landfill would be reopened or how long it would
take for the situation to return to normal.
In a release yesterday, the company also suggested
that the fires, which have created a toxic cloud of
smoke over the capital and environs since Monday,
SWMCOL chair Nalini Sooklal also said they
also redirected regular operations to the other
landfills at Forres Park and Guanapo to help bring
the situation under control.
The fires have not yet been extinguished.
Sooklal said one area of the landfill was still on
fire and SWMCOL would continue to "work assid-
uously" to dealing with it despite the prevailing
wind conditions, which caused a resurgence of
smoke in the capital city and environs yesterday.
Smoke was reported in parts of St James yesterday,
but according to the EMA air pollution levels were
much lower or normal further away from the city.
Sooklal said SWMCOL had been working with
the EMA to monitor the impact of the fires on the
air quality in the affected areas.
"We continue to apologise to the national com-
munity for the inconvenience and adverse conse-
quences of these fires. SWMCOL also wishes to
advise motorists to exercise caution on the roadways
as the resultant smoke has impaired visibility," said
The National Petroleum Company s Sea Lots
operations also remained closed for a third straight
day yesterday due to the situation. However, the
company said it does not expect citizens who use
LPG gas to be significantly affected by the closure.
It said the LPG cylinders were available at other
locations across the country.
Since Monday, the EMA has been doing air quality
tests in areas in and around Port-of-Spain.
According to a release yesterday, the test done
on Monday at the site closest to the source of the
smoke near Sea Lots showed the particulates present
in the atmosphere were more than 13 times the
limit set in the Draft Air Pollution Rules.
Particulates are particles suspended in the air,
and can remain suspended for long periods. They
are a key component of air pollution and smog,
the release said.
"Particulates affect the environment as it con-
tributes to greenhouse gases, and affects human
health as they can easily reach the deepest recesses
of the lungs, leading to respiratory ailments according
to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA),"
the release said.
The test done in downtown Port- of-Spain
reportedly revealed readings more than ten times
the limit, and the test near the Mucurapo foreshore
(the test site furthest from the source) revealed
readings more than twice the limit.
A test done yesterday, however, showed the air
quality within the Port-of-Spain area had returned
to normality, the release said. But the air close to
the landfill remained polluted.
AIR POLLUTION WAY OVER LIMITS
Students and workers fled Port-of-Spain
yesterday as toxic smoke from the Beetham
landfill overwhelmed the capital city for
the third day.
The toxic smoke has been confirmed to
be in some cases 13 times over the limit set
out in the Draft Air Pollution Rules.
The Health Ministry said in a release that
the air pollution from the landfill site might
be hazardous to health, especially to people
who are "predisposed through hypersensi-
tivity conditions such as bronchial asthma
In an interview, Health Minister Fuad
Khan said he had asked the North West
Regional Health Authority (NWRHA) to
make preparations, including ensuring that
clinics remained open late to treat people
affected by the smoke.
The release from the ministry advised
affected people to go to the nearest hospital
or health centre if they developed severe
shortness of breath, skin or eye irritation.
The Woodbrook and El Socorro Health
Centres were designated to remain open
until 9 pm.
"There have been reports of people com-
plaining of throat irritation," Khan said.
There were concerns about smoke reach-
ing the hospitals, but he said as most of the
hospital rooms were air-conditioned they
would not be greatly affected.
The acrid smoke spread as far as the
Mucurapo Foreshore, and forced 16 schools
to send home students before noon yesterday
and businesses in the city to close their
Before the end of the day s first class,
students of Success Laventille Secondary
School had been sent home and were seen
walking in the city.
Queen s Royal College, opposite the
Queen s Park Savannah, also dismissed its
Mother of three Susan James was seen
standing with her children on Charlotte
Street. She said their school had called her
to take the children home because they were
coughing and responding negatively to the
smoke. James s daughter coughed repeatedly
during the interview.
In a release, the Education Ministry said
it had given approval for closure of schools
affected by heavy smoke emanating from
President of the Downtown Owners and
Merchants Association Gregory Aboud
described the situation as intolerable and
preposterous, likening it to the recent oil
spills which affected La Brea and other com-
munities in south Trinidad.
"The difference is one is by sea and the
other is by air or by wind, but they are both
environmental disasters and they are both
laden with danger," he warned.
He said the situation was not new and
those in charge were communicating "help-
Last April, 12 fires were set in the same
landfill, causing similar distress to Port-of-
Spain businesses, residents and commuters.
Those fires were eventually put out after
Aboud said he also felt Solid Waste Man-
agement Company Ltd (SWMCOL) was
being badly managed.
"Somebody needs to explain how this
happened," he stressed.
"This is something that is in everyone s
Toxic fumes sicken citizens
on high alert
A man walks through the Beetham landfill yesterday with items he collected at the site,
even as workmen (background) carried out work to put out fires started there earlier this
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SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS THAT
YOU ARE BEING AFFECTED BY
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