Satellite image of the Beetham Landfill on 7th April 2022. (Image courtesy Google Maps)

Persons living in and around, as well as working in capital city, Port of Spain, will have to exercise extreme caution today, following a fire which occurred at the Beetham Landfill, last night.

The Trinidad and Tobago Solid Waste Management Company Limited (SWMCOL) is advising that there is still smoke emanating from the landfill.

“The Trinidad and Tobago Solid Waste Management Company Limited (SWMCOL) takes this opportunity to advise commuters entering the capital city and those who work and reside in the vicinity of the landfill to proceed with caution due to smoke emanating from the landfill,” an official statement from the company said.

It added: “SWMCOL apologizes for the inconvenience to the traveling public and those with respiratory conditions as we work assiduously to have the issue rectified.”

SWMCOL reports in its release that it became aware “at approximately 5 pm on the 6th, of April, of a fire at the southern tip of the landfill…”: 

“Notwithstanding, embers from the fire ignited an adjacent section of the landfill resulting in the Trinidad and Tobago Fire Service, WASA, and SWMCOL’s emergency management team working throughout the night to have the fire brought under control,” SWMCOL said.

The company said the fire was brought under control by 10 pm.

AQI reading of ‘HAZARDOUS’, taken from EMA’s Port of Spain Monitoring Station at 8 am on 7th April 2022. (Image courtesy EMA)

Meanwhile, the Air Quality Index (AQI) for Port of Spain currently is registered as HAZARDOUS at 329 points, according to a reading taken at 8 am today, from the AQI Monitoring Station set up by the Environmental Management Authority (EMA).

An AQI in such a high range means there is a serious risk of respiratory distress for everyone in the area, according to the EMA’s advisory on such high levels:

“Serious aggravation of respiratory symptoms in sensitive groups including older adults, children, and people with respiratory ailments and allergies,” the EMA advisory warns.  “Serious aggravation of heart or lung disease and premature mortality in people with heart or lung disease; serious risk of respiratory effects in general population.”

“Everyone should avoid all physical activity outdoors,” the EMA advisory states.  “People with heart or lung disease, older adults, children, and people with respiratory ailments and allergies should remain indoors and keep activity levels low.”