Once again, I want to reassure the Bahamian people that the recent fires at the New Providence landfill remains a top priority for the Government. We are especially mindful about the health and safety of the people living in the vicinity of the landfill and other communities affected by the smoke that was emanating from the site. We are also aware of the negative impacts these fires have had on businesses in the surrounding area.
I can confirm that surface fires at the New Providence landfill are currently out and contained.The Government’s decision to privatize the landfill has resulted in approximately $6 million in government savings. Renew Bahamas has the responsibility for managing a new recycling program in The Bahamas as well as utilizing technology to limit any potential environmental impact of the landfill.
As a result of the Government’s partnership with Renew Bahamas, the number of fires has been reduced; they are less intense and are being extinguished in far less time. It is also important to note that for an extended period of time there were no recurring fires at this property.
When the most recent fires occurred, enhanced measures were put in place to address and monitor the situation:
– Government has arranged for an independently run and year-round environmental monitoring system to test ambient air quality and has purchased systems to be installed not only at the New Providence landfill, but also at the Lewis Yard in Grand Bahama
– Renew Bahamas has added additional security measures at the landfill to limit the potential for arson.
– Additional wells are being drilled in strategic areas to ensure access to water sources in case of fire, should it occur again.
– Renew Bahamas is reviewing the current fire safety and response plan together with the Department of Environmental Health Services & the Royal Bahamas Police Force.
We continue to closely monitor the activities of Renew Bahamas, as we rely on them to ensure the safety and security of the landfill.
For background, fires at the landfill have historically been caused by human intervention or by waste that should be disposed of in a different manner such as toxic substances, tires, batteries and chemicals. The new facility and protocols now enables recycling to take place, and significant quantities of the waste brought to the site is recycled. It has a sorting system in place, separating plastics, tires and other recyclable materials from other forms of waste. Organics including green waste is being planned to be diverted from the landfill and separated from other forms of waste. This is an important next step.We also remind the Bahamian people that there are separate disposal procedures for medical waste at the Bahamas Waste facility on Gladstone Road. All of these measures aim to reduce the risk of fires.As a long term commitment to the safety of Bahamians, The Government has agreed to air ambient quality testing.
Environmental protection is a priority for the Ministry throughout the Archipelago. In order to protect our environment, it is important that all citizens be aware of the measures one can take as an individual to help keep our Bahamas clean, green and pristine. We are conscious of the fact that advancing a recycling culture will not happen overnight, and we are committed to developing a long term public education strategy to encourage Bahamians to reduce, reuse and recycle.
I also want to highlight that I am as always, available for meetings and consultations with community groups and residents.
The Government and this Ministry is focused not only on preventing future landfill fires, but also preserving The Bahamas’ entire environment for a Stronger Bahamas.