PHILIPSBURG–Air quality measurements were taken “only on top of the dumpsite to measure air composition for the purpose of preparing a firefighting strategy,” said the World Bank in response to the furor caused by an article publish by Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant claiming government hid levels of toxic smoke emitted by the constantly on-fire dump.
The assessment of the dump is still being finalized with additional analysis undertaken, said the World Bank in a press statement on Thursday.
Through the Sint Maarten Recovery, Reconstruction and Resilience Trust Fund, the World Bank is supporting government to find a solution to put out the fires on the dump. A baseline assessment of exhausts and materials at the dump site was conducted on August 22 by an environmental consulting firm. That assessment led to a preliminary report.
The World Bank has “a clear and transparent access to information policy. This means that key project documents are made available online in project preparation and implementation phase once final. In line with the Information disclosure policy, the findings will be made available once the assessment is completed.”
Responding also to the Dutch newspaper article, Prime Minister Leona Romeo-Marlin stated on Wednesday: “The article wrongly concludes that the Government of Sint Maarten is maliciously keeping this information from the public.”
The draft report’s disclaimer states: “These air quality test results and conclusion contained herein DO NOT contain reference to or discussion of potential of offsite mitigation of COCs [chemicals of concern] or the potential for impacting surrounding population…this sampling and analysis event was performed to assess the ‘worse case’ exposure scenarios for workers (without excavating waste) that will be performing fire suppression and working within active combustion and smoke-impacted areas. These data should not be used for other purposes in particular speculation as to what offsite concerns may or may not be occurring.”
The disclaimer also states: “Perimeter air quality monitoring of the landfill and potential impacts to the surrounding areas from emission is recommended to be preform as part of the fire suppression activities to be protective of human health and environment.”
Samples for the still-draft report were taken directly from points of exhaust at the landfill in areas of the immediate vicinity of the fissures. Testing was not done at any points outside of the landfill to determine the levels of contaminants in the traveling smoke.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/82464-world-bank-neighbourhoods-air-quality-was-not-measured