Tireless efforts by members of the Barbados Fire Service in tandem with Sanitation Service Authority (SSA) workers have averted any danger associated with burning tires at the country’s largest landfill in St Thomas, which started early on Sunday morning.
On Monday, the black smoke and flames which were billowing dozens of meters into the sky had disappeared. A handful of SSA workers were on site continuing their efforts to pour marl on the hot surface, which now posed no threat to safety.
However, stakeholders and those living in the areas around the dump are adamant that a permanent solution must be found to nagging problems.
Residents in the Arch Hall, St Thomas community, downwind of Sunday’s fire said they were happy with the swift response from the fire service, SSA and Ministry of Health personnel. They however added that along with the putrid smell, which covered the area from time to time, they needed a permanent fix to the dangerous fumes which come from the burning tires.
Ryan Sisnett, a resident of Arch Hall, St Thomas for the past three years said: “The dump has been a notable feature of my experience so far, ranging from the smell which residents have to endure from time to time, to the most recent billowing of smoke and fire, which was really bad but has now subsided.”
While Sisnett admitted he was no expert on waste management he noted, “Whoever the authorities are, they need to do a better job because my main concern is for the asthmatics. I don’t know the chemicals contained in the fumes, but the health effects need to be looked at.
“In fact, I think we need measures on the whole to have that dump relocated or use it as a source of alternative energy. Use it to do something positive instead of having it affecting residents in this way,” he pleaded.
Desmond, a landscaper working nearby agreed.
“We really need to come up with a better solution. Keeping those tires and having these fires is really a hazard. We in this country all have to come up with a better idea for dealing with those tires, because these fires are making it difficult for people.”
On Sunday, Minister of the Environment and National Beautification, Trevor Prescod did not shy away from the burning issue, indicating that Government was exploring options to have the dump transformed.
“They are thousands and thousands of tires here on the landfill and we are looking at many different options on how we would be able to disperse of it and give it some meaningful value.
“Our waste-to-energy programme will be looking to use it as a source of energy. We are discussing with people outside of Government to see how we can use the tires to produce a cheaper form of energy so that we can better take advantage of economies of scale to help businesses increase their profits and reduce expenditure.
“We also will be looking to use it in asphalt production,” he added.
Minister Prescod however said that even with the tires causing serious problems right now, Government needed to ensure there are enough to sustain a recycling industry.
“The truth is that in order to do these things, we need to see how we can sustain the supply of the materials here over a number of years. We can’t ask businesses to convert the mechanisms and then the very source that you are offering to them to keep things going, we find ourselves short of it within two or three years time and then we have to look overseas,” said Prescod.