There have been no reports of serious illness due to the country’s most recent landfill fire at Cane Garden in St. Thomas yesterday.
However, in its aftermath, Minister of Health Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic expressed serious concern about the alarming number of fires which have occurred this year under similar circumstances and their potential impact on citizens’ health and wellness.
In fact, following yesterday’s fire at B’s recycling plant, a huge fire at Sustainable Barbados Recycling Centre (SBRC) in June and another at the Sanitation Service Authority (SSA)’s Mangrove Landfill in February, Minister Bostic revealed he would be calling for urgent talks with key officials to discuss the situation.
“I am very concerned because obviously once you have these fires, you are then presented with health concerns and health issues for persons who suffer with respiratory problems and that in itself is a concern to the Ministry of Health,” Bostic told Barbados TODAY.
“The way forward is to meet with the Ministry of the Environment and National Beautification because that is the lead ministry in this regard, so that they can come up with some solutions to what obviously is a worrisome trend which has been taking place within the last several months. From a health perspective, certainly I would like to see these fires cease.”
On Tuesday night, Minister of the Environment and National Beautification, Trevor Prescod blamed China’s decision to ban certain solid waste materials, with crippling the local industry.
Prescod further revealed that authorities would explore alternative locations including quarries to dump waste material, ultimately reducing the hazardous pile ups.
On this occasion, the Health Minister reported no major health issues from residents due to the fire, but said it would only be matter of time before the fires started having an adverse impact.
“We took some action from a health persepective in terms of deploying environmental officers in the communities we felt might have been impacted by the outbreak of fires like the one yesterday evening,” said Bostic.
“We have also been doing some public service annoucements to inform persons who have respiratory problems to evacuate when these things occur and to seek medical attention at the polyclinics if they are impacted. Beyond that, I cannot say that we have had any serious issues,” he said.
Bostic pointed to the fact that the Department of Emergency Management did not mobilize its emergency response mechanism within the country, since the impact from the fire did not appear to be severe.