POND ISLAND--The St. Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association (SHTA) has suggested that authorities use a sprinkler system at the sanitary landfill (dump) to help combat the constant fires at the site.  

SHTA said in a press release on Wednesday that while investigating the situation at the landfill, it was informed that there are several water pumps currently in working condition at the dump. These are used to pump water from the Great Salt Pond in case of fires.

SHTA urges government to use the pumps and purchase a sprinkler system (similar to those water canon type sprinkler systems used by large hotels on the island) to keep the dump perpetually wet.

“Keeping the dump wet will help prevent fires thus reducing the toxic fumes that are being emitted from the dump on a daily basis. The dump being kept wet will also keep the toxic ashes from becoming airborne and poisoning our community,” SHTA said in the release. “While indeed those in the immediate vicinity suffer the most, the entire island experiences ash at different times depending on the wind conditions. The most recent volcanic-like eruption on March 22, had reports of ash in Cupecoy and Marigot.”

SHTA said the dump can easily be classified as a national health crisis and as such government should allocate emergency funds towards preventing fires and outing the daily toxic smoke that is poisoning the populace. “The SHTA is reminding government of its primary duty to safeguard the health of its population as laid down in Articles 18.1, 18.2, 21.1 and 22 of the Constitution of St. Maarten. The present situation cannot and should not be allowed to continue without some immediate action even if interim to reduce the hazard to all of our health.”

The Association says its suggestion should be a prelude to a more permanent solution such as the integrated waste management system advocated by the Social Economic Council SER in its recent advice (SER/16/GR/080) to government.

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