Don’t say that you don’t know: dumpsites are a deadly threat

The news are speaking themselves.

In Spain, just 50 km from Madrid, on May 12th, a fire at an illegal dumpsite with 75,000 tons spent tyres created a so thick toxic fume that billows of thick black smoke could be seen for 20 miles. Despite the efforts of the firefighters to contain the fire (something that seemed to be managed 3 days later) the authorities ordered the evacuation of the Quinon de Sesena area, where 9,000 people live, saying human health might be at risk. Watch a Daily Mail video here.

In Guatemala City, a massive dumpsite landslide killed four people on April 26. At least 24 more people are missing almost all of them are informal recyclers. This is the Guatemala City garbage dump, the largest dump in all of Central America & certainly one of the most notorious in the world, where at least 7,000 people, including children, work from dawn to dusk, 365 days a year collecting plastic, metal, & other recyclables to resell.

In India, the mammoth ticking garbage bombs of Ghazipur and Bhalswa landfills are spewing toxic gases by the minute into Delhi’s already foul air because the national capital does not have a proper waste management system. On April 22, locals say that Bhalswa is simmering like a volcano for decades. The recent fire in New Delhi’s dumpsite created serious air pollution incidents to India’s capital. According another recent article, biogas trapped beneath makes Ghazipur dumpsite, which also serves New Delhi, is a ticking time bomb.

In Jamaica, thick, noxious smoke blanketed Jamaica’s capital on Thursday March 12, as a wind-fanned fire burned at a sprawling, open-air waste dump on the city’s outskirts that has seen repeated blazes. Schools closed and the government advised residents to stay indoors and close windows. before this incident, the last major fire at the dump, in April 2014, burned for nearly two weeks and sent an increased number of people with respiratory distress to health clinics.

There are no excuses, don’t say that that you do not know. Dumpsites are still a big problem in both developed and developing world, although sometimes we pretend that the problem is solved in EU (see this EUROPOL Warn for an example).

The health consequences from dumpsites are not as dramatic than we all thought – they are much more worse and they are getting worse day by day. Using some elementary calculations, it seems that the annual cost of the health impacts posed by dumpsites are in the order of billions or decades of billions per year – using 50% of this amount of money for helping developing countries resolve their waste management problems will have positive economic, environmental and health impacts on the long-term and save many thousands lives immediately.

Dumpsites are a global health emergency and their substitution by sound and controlled waste management systems must be considered as a top priority, right here, right now.

No time to wait, we need urgently a roadmap that will drive us, step by step, towards the closure of the biggest dumpsites of the world .  Every day of delay will cost additional human lives and millions of dollars of health and environmental impacts. Don’t say that that you do not know.

1 Comment
  1. romi kataria 1 year ago

    My opinion is that the govts.should go in for small capacity recyclation plants and waste management plants.These should be localized,catering to a particular locality or facility.This will to a great extent ease the logistics problem also.The end products of recycling and waste mgmt.could be used in the particular area only.Public transport system should be very efficient so that lesser number of vehicles are on the road which will not only reduce pollution but lesser unusable discards like tyre etc.Another important issue is bringing awareness to masses.Regular training programme and awareness campaigns should be organized at all levels.

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