Tall Pines MP Don Saunders hosted a town hall meeting at Garvin Tynes Primary School to hear from constituents impacted by landfill fires. Photo: Shawn Hanna/Tribune Staff
By AVA TURNQUEST
Tribune Chief Reporter
ENVIRONMENTAL Health is reviewing bids for a new security firm to guard the New Providence Landfill, according to Director of Environmental Health Services Melanie McKenzie, who revealed that the previous firm’s contract ended with the last budget cycle.
Mrs McKenzie underscored security as a major concern for officials as the unlit 225 acre site was frequented daily by more than 100 scavengers, who look for scrap and burn wires that can potentially spark dump fires.
She also pointed to the accumulation of more than 300,000 tyres on the site as she spoke during a town hall meeting at Garvin Tynes Primary School organised by Tall Pines MP Don Saunders on Wednesday night.
The meeting was attended by some 100 area residents, who voiced concerns about their proximity to the landfill and its management, and responsibility for health issues arising from the massive fires at the site earlier this year and in recent years.
“As you know the landfill is not closed off,” Mrs McKenzie said. “So you can access the landfill by foot from Fire Trail Road, from Milo Butler Highway, from Harrold Road and many people do. Every single day that we go there we have on a daily basis at least 100 people we’re running, every day. And they never leave, so you’re doing this constantly.”
She continued: “We had engaged a private firm, and, of course, the budget ended and we could not retain them any longer. The government has given approval for us to retain a private firm from 6pm to 6am in the morning. Those tenders have been put out, we have done evaluation but we have not yet selected.”
In June, an environmental activist raised concerns over the alleged stoppage of the compacting of waste material deposited at the New Providence Landfill, charging that such inaction leaves the site “vulnerable” to yet another massive fire.
However, Mrs McKenzie maintained this week that compacting continues at the Harrold Road site.
“Our major initiative is the active face (at the landfill) it is where everything happens,” she said.
“It’s where you find your scavengers, people disposing of what they ought not dispose. It’s where we concentrate all manpower. We try very hard to compact everyday.”