PHILIPSBURG – After St. Maarten once again experienced significant fires at the Philipsburg landfill, the St. Maarten Nature Foundation started a petition to urge Government to take action regarding the landfill and the frequent fires that have been plaguing the country.
“The dump in the Great Salt pond has been a problem for very long time and has been affecting the health of everyone living and visiting the island. The number of fires on the dump and their intensity are increasing. The fires and toxic fumes affects the health of everyone living on St. Maarten and is causing great health concerns. It is time to take action now to protect the health of St Maarteners,” read a Nature Foundation statement.
The Nature Foundation conducted a survey in early 2016, about the effects of the landfill fires on residents and the results show very worrying health concerns associated with the fires:
- All districts of St. Maarten have been affected by the smoke caused by the landfill fires;
- 35% frequently experience negative effects throughout the year from fumes coming from the landfill;
- 50% of all respondents complained about trouble breathing due to the fumes coming from the landfill;
- 73% of all respondents mentioned burning in their eyes, nose or throat;
- 50% experienced burning, watering eyes because of the toxic fumes;
- 30% experienced nausea combined with vomiting;
- 50% experienced uncontrolled coughing;
- And 40% have sought medical assistance because of health complications arising from the fumes caused by the landfill.
A petition has been developed by the Nature Foundation urging the St. Maarten Government to effectively protect the health of St. Maarteners by immediately taking action to prevent any further dump fires, and to arrive at a sustainable solution for the dump and St. Maarten’s waste management.
Government should also take action to decrease garbage and waste input into the dump through significantly increasing recycling, ban disposable plastics and Styrofoam, and promote reusable products and recycling.
The Foundation asks St. Maarteners to sign the petition to show and urge the Government to take immediate action. The petition can be found at change.org, and a direct link can be found at the St. Maarten Nature Foundation Facebook page.
The petition can be signed at https://www.change.org/p/st-maarten-government-take-action-about-the-worrying-situation-of-the-st-maarten-dump.