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Wind change blows
smoke in Barataria
Crews were up to late yesterday working
round-the-clock to ensure the last fire at the
Beetham landfill was completely extinguished,
even as smoke continued to engulf Port-of-
Spain, and had spread to parts of Barataria.
Manager of the landfill Richard Warren said
yesterday that workers were out as early as 3
am using heavy equipment. He said the odd
showers also assisted, but it created some chal-
lenges by causing muddy roads.
"We have been here right through trying to
get the last bit out...The rain has helped in that
regard, but at the same time it made muddy
roads which could be a challenge," Warren said.
He said he expected the situation to be "back
to normal" by today.
However, residents of Barataria, Cascade and
Lady Young Avenue, Morvant, complained yes-
terday of heavy smoke affecting them, resulting
in watery eyes and itchy throats.
One resident said she was confused over
whether the fires were under control or had
But Warren said this was because wind direc-
tion had changed the path of the smoke flow,
which no one had control over, but noted that
the smoke was not as thick as before.
Contacted yesterday, chief executive officer
of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Man-
agement (ODPM), Dr Stephen Ramroop, said he
was aware of the complaints of smoke. He said
their call centre was bombarded with calls from
people complaining about smoke coming from
the east of the landfill, adding the weather con-
ditions and wind pattern had caused this.
Ramroop said about 90 per cent of the fire
had been extinguished, adding that crews from
the Solid Waste Management Company (SWM-
COL) were trying their best to out the remainder
of the burning debris.
"SWMCOL has really been trying but people
have to remember that these fires are deep-
seated," he added.
On the issue of security, National Security
Minister Gary Griffith yesterday said all the nec-
essary steps have been put in place to ensure
there are no further breaches of the law at the
landfill. He said the cause of the 12 fires, which
were reported by SWMCOL as maliciously set,
was yet to be determined.
Monday, February 3, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
for 31th JANUARY, 2014
Residents of Beetham Gar-
dens are suggesting that the
Government replace the
Beetham landfill with a recy-
cling plant, which they can
place in the hands of the res-
idents to operate.
They say this will help reduce
crime and unemployment, as
well as prevent smog and other
toxic fumes from polluting Port-
The suggestion was made yes-
terday by a group of residents
working at a scrapyard off the
eastbound lane of the Beetham
Highway, opposite the entrance
to the landfill.
"Let them build a recycling
plant. We will sort the plastic,
glass and paper. We could do
with the work," a one-legged
male resident, who only identi-
fied himself as "Goodness," said.
His comment came even as
smoke from the last of the 12
fires, said to be maliciously set
at the landfill, spread east to
Barataria due to a change of
While he agreed that the
landfill should be replaced with
a modern environmentally-
friendly alternative, Goodness
firmly stated that the country s
main waste management facility
should remain close to their
community and should be
staffed by residents.
"Where else would they put
it? We know garbage, that is we
business," he said.
Another man, who did not
want to be identified, said if the
facility were to be relocated it
would negatively affect the
community, as many of its res-
idents, who survive off it, would
be without an income.
"That would be chaos and
madness. They can t close it
down or move it, just do the
recycling here," Goodness added.
Goodness and his friends,
who all work in the scrap iron
salvaging business, said they
took up the profession because
they found it difficult to find
"What they have to under-
stand is that when we go for a
job and people hear you from
Laventille or Beetham is auto-
matically they have no vacan-
cies," a young man said.
The residents also dismissed
suggestions that they were
responsible for setting the fires.
They all said that although
many people have a negative
image of their community, there
are many upstanding citizens
who live and work at the landfill.
"People think we does just
rob people who shut down on
the highway. They have us down
as the worst, like if we is
garbage. It have good people
here too," the man said.
The residents all said they
believed that if more jobs and
opportunities were provided for
the young people in the com-
munity, fewer of them would
be attracted to joining gangs
"We have some youths down
here that does give trouble and
we does try to keep them in
line. We need some sporting
programmes and facilities to
occupy them," an elderly resi-
Asked if they were affected
by smoke caused by last week s
fires in the landfill, many res-
idents said no, adding that such
fumes were part of daily life in
"That didn t really affect we.
We accustomed to that. They
have people in here that could
go acrosss in the dump and eat
out of a bag of garbage and
nothing will happen to them,"
a female resident said.
Beetham residents on landfill future:
Other options can work
Fireworks go off from chutney
star Ravi B at the end of his
performance of Yuh Mudda
Cyah Make Bread during the
2014 NLCB Chutney Soca
Monarch semifinal at Rienzi
Complex, Couva, on Saturday
night. PHOTO: TONY HOWELL
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