PHILIPSBURG:--- - “I understand and share the community’s outrage and frustration with the frequent fires at the dump. Clearly, the situation is unacceptable and negatively affecting our children, our elderly, and the entire population of St. Maarten. Based on conversations with Minister Christophe Emmanuel, I believe that he and his Department are working diligently to provide a definitive and structural interim and long-term solution to waste management. The continuous burning of the Dump is a serious public health hazard, is a concern for the community and the entire Council of Ministers”, stated Minister Emil Lee.
The Department of Collective Prevention Services has made contact with PAHO or Pan American Health Organization (www.paho.org) for technical support on finalizing the short-term & long-term solution. The request for support from PAHO is threefold: 1) The immediate request is to advise on specific details to be included in new terms of reference for a Landfill Manager, to guarantee adequate management, taking the Public Health into perspective and not only the management of the physical situation of a landfill. 2) The intermediate request is for PAHO to support Sint Maarten to initiate a dialogue on Integrated Waste Management that can contribute to proper waste management on Sint Maarten in the long term. 3) Since it is the responsibility of government to give guidelines and set the standards, to advise on equipment needed to measure water, air quality and chemicals at a landfill and to advice on quality standards and values. A virtual meeting with PAHO, Minister VSA, and Minister of VROMI is scheduled to take place this Wednesday, March 29th.
It is not the intention of the Ministry of Public Health to become too closely involved in operational aspects of the landfill management as the Ministry of VROMI is the controlling agency. Ministry of VSA is in regular communication with VROMI and will provide support to ensure that all health concerns are integrated into the future plans.