With an investigation underway into the cause of Sunday’s massive tyre fire at the Cooks Landfill, officials at the National Solid Waste Management Authority and the Environment Division have expressed concern about the effects the fire which is still burning, is having on the population, the atmosphere as well as plant and wild life.
How the inferno started is still a mystery but the massive grade-four alarm blaze could be seen from miles away, as plumes of smoke ascended hundreds of feet into the air.
Marketing and Education Officer at the National Solid Waste Authority, Avna Baronville, said that there was cause for great concern since the conflagration damaged power lines and caused power cables to be scattered all across the main drive way to the landfill.
She added that even APUA had difficulty accessing and assessing the area because of the heat and the thickness of the dark poisonous smoke that was emanating from the flames.
Baronville revealed said that after the wind shifted on Monday (yesterday), residents of neighboring Five Islands began feeling the effects with one individual who had difficulty breathing posting her concerns on the National Solid Waste` Facebook Page.
The Environment Division also released a statement today ( Tuesday) which expressed the department’s concerns about the matter and the potential impact that the Cooks Sanitary landfill Tyre Fire may have on the country in a number of areas.
The release stated, “Uncontrolled tyre fires usually have major environmental impacts, which include: Air pollution: black smoke and other substances such as volatile organic compounds, dioxins and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are released into the atmosphere.”
“Water pollution: the intense heat allows pyrolysis of the rubber to occur, resulting in an oily decomposition product, which is manifested as an oil runoff. This runoff can be carried by water, if water is used to put out the fire. Other combustion residues (such as zinc, cadmium and lead) can also be carried by fire water off the site.”
Soil pollution: residues that remain on the site after the fire can cause two types of pollution; these are immediate pollution by liquid decomposition products penetrating soil, and gradual pollution from leaching of ash and unburned residues following rainfall or other water entry.
Meanwhile, with Erica, the fifth named storm of the 2015 Hurricane season barreling towards the islands, Baronville is urging residents to be vigilant and follow the usual protocols that are being advertised from the various media houses.
She said Antiguans and Barbudans need to make waste management one of the main focuses of their disaster plans.