Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure (VROMI), Miklos Giterson, informs the general public that as of today, August 9th, the main landfill will close at 6pm daily for the next week until Thursday, August 16th. This action being taken by the Ministry to prevent unsupervised dumping of household garbage, especially on and near areas that are still smoldering due to the recent fire. The fire, which flared up on the northern side of the landfill on Tuesday evening, was primarily extinguished by the Fire Department in the early morning hours of Wednesday. Upon advice from the fire department, the remnant is being allowed to burn out over the next few days.
In regard to the issue of the complete extinguishment of the continuously burning underground fire, which is the main cause of the periodic above ground flare ups, the Minister awaits the arrival of a World Bank mission the week of August 20th. During this mission the continuation of a detailed reconnaissance of the landfill will be undertaken, a critical step to the start of the “Fire Suppression” project. This project, which also includes the removing of debris from the hurricane Irma dumpsite, is part of the Emergency Recovery Projects funded by the Trust Fund.
Parallel to the fire suppression project, a permanent solution to the overcapacity of the landfill is still being investigated. To that end the Ministry has hired a Waste Authority Project Manager who will be tasked to continue research into and provide recommendations on the most sustainable options in dealing with Sint Maarten’s garbage problem.
“I want to reassure the public that, as I said on day one at my first press briefing, this situation has always been and continues to be my biggest priority at the moment as Minister.” Minister Giterson explained. “Believe me when I say, I am just as upset as the rest of the population that these fires continue to happen. The fires, the expired lifespan of the landfill and moving towards a more profitable and environmentally friendly way of disposing of garbage are all challenges that we are tackling.”