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Sunday, June 5, 2016

The "Sint Maarten's Sanitary Landfill aka The Dump" Story

Smoke from the Sanitary Landfill can be seen in the
distance.  This photo was taken by our friend Barbara.
It was an ordinary day.  Standing on the rear deck of Barbara and Dee's home on Sugar Hill Drive, looking out over the verdant green hills below us and wondering about the smoke that was drifting across the clear blue sky directly behind the Dutch capital city of Philipsburg.  Barbara explained that it was coming from the dump which is at the rear end of the Salt Pond which is directly behind Philipsburg.  The dump is the public disposal site for the entire country of Sint Maarten.  Being that there seems to be no recycling program, and little regard for the environment, who knows what is actually in that landfill site a mile or two below us.  
Smoke as it grows more intense.
Could have hazardous waste, medical waste, motor oil, old batteries and just about anything that is discarded and finds it way to the dump.  And, as I look out over this beautiful island that Carol and I have grown to love as a second home, I wonder how this could be happening.  It's as if Barbara and Dee are living in a third world country, but with a brand new cruise ship dock.  Barbara told me that when the dump starts burning, her whole house smells of smoke and they have to close all the doors and windows and turn on the air conditioning.  She told me that her eyes and throat burn and get scratchy.  
And what could this tanker be dumping in the salt pond?
How awful that someone would have to live like this.  So, I began to do some searching and made a few unbeliev- able discoveries along the way.  First, there are families who live right next to the dump in structures made of loose boards, plywood and pieces of corrugated metal for roofing with no signs of septic or potable water.  To me this is a disgrace to allow citizens to be exposed to the toxins on a daily basis and not do anything about it.  What kind of politicians are running the country?  
Fires break out on a daily basis at the dump.
Need I say more about that?  Seems the lifespan of the dump was reached several years ago and successive adminis- trations have just keep passing the problem along.  The burning of the dump seems to be due to the build up of methane gas underground being ignited by just about anything that maybe in the dump.  And as soon as one fire dies out or is extinguished, another one begins.  
The air quality can't be good with the dump burning like this.
One resident suggested the citizens wear gas masks in the nearby city of Philipsburg where all the cruise ship passengers shop.  Maybe if they could cause a stir among the tourists, the government may work on a solution in a more timely manner.  I also found that two years ago a contract was awarded to begin work on a Waste Processing Plant by the company doing business as Synergy.  I read the entire summary, impact, rationale, scenarios and conclusions and can't believe that nothing still hasn't begun.  So what's going on?  My guess is that nothing will happen until the citizens rid their government of all the corrupt politicians or ministers.  I believe that a new election is fast approaching and perhaps new officials can be elected and the country can help save itself.  If not, I'm afraid that the residents of the island will be afflicted with more disease and health problems than they can fathom and the cruise ships will no longer visit the shores of Sint Maarten.

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