‘Blaze under control’

Vunato Dump from the Veidogo Settlement end. Thick smoke continues to be emitted from the landfill. Picture: FELIX CHAUDHARY/FILE

SMOKE from the Vunato Dump fire which engulfed Lautoka City over the past five days is now under control, says Minister for Waterways and Environment Dr Mahendra Reddy.

He said after studying the situation at the dump site, staff members from his ministry and Ministry of Local Government had organised pumps and started to douse the fire at Vunato.

“As of midday today, there is no live fire and smoke has been reduced by 60 per cent,” Dr Reddy said.

“The fire was most probably caused by the combustion of biogases like methane and hydrogen sulphide. “When organic wastes decompose, biogases are released and these gases are extremely volatile and are easily combustible.”

Dr Reddy added that because of the volatile nature of materials found in dump sites, Lautoka had to look for a safer method of maintaining its waste.

“That’s why we now need to move away from dump sites and develop proper landfills.

“In a landfill, waste is compacted into the ground by means of a specially-equipped bulldozer passing over it many times.

“By doing this, air and water are literally squeezed out of the wastes, thus minimising two vital elements for bacteria to live.

“Landfills can also have pipes underground to ‘evacuate’ any gas that collects.”

People living in informal settlements located next to the Vunato Dump claimed that there had been discussion to move the site to an isolated area in Teidamu.

Lautoka City Council CEO Jone Nakauvadra said no such discussions had been held nor were being considered yet.

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