The Government has issued a statement on the progress of the firefighting efforts at the Wheeland Landfill, which is making life uncomfortable for residents in adjacent areas.
The fire, which triggered sometime on Monday, has been giving off thick black plumes, which billows into the residential areas of that section of Providenciales.
Fires from the landfill has been a longstanding canary in the coal mine for residents of the area, as they often complained of respiratory problems after inhaling the noxious smoke from the site.
The following is the statement from the government:
Operations at the Providenciales Solid Waste facility (commonly known as the dump) were suspended when an active fire was reported yesterday afternoon burning throughout the night.
In response to the blaze, a Unified Incident Command Centre (UICC) was activated on site.
The response team managing the crisis comprised key agencies - the Environmental Health Dept, the TCI Regiment, both the domestic and aerodrome fire services, water delivery trucking companies, heavy equipment contractors, and stakeholders were all on hand to help suppress and monitor the massive fire.
Lending their assistance and support were the Minister of Health and Human Services, the Honourable Jamell Robinson, the Minister for Home Affairs, Hon. Otis Morris and MP for the area, Hon. Kyle Knowles.
Hon. Jamell Robinson after hours of coordination and on-ground assessments, commented that a full investigation will commence. Hon. Robinson offered this public caution, “In the Islands, the harshest sentences are reserved for persons who unlawfully and maliciously set fire to property. Under the Malicious Injuries to Property Ordinance such persons are liable to penalties ranging from three (3) years imprisonment to life imprisonment.”
The Health Minister also added that the wind direction was in our favour causing the toxic fumes and smoke to blow away rather than in the direction of populated residential areas.
Upon investigation, the fire was seen coming from several spots of the dump and spreading to the tyre pile producing large plumes of and black smoke.
The TCI Regiment further assisted by manning aerial drones which produced photos of the impacted area and up to press time, no hazards were detected that present a health concern to residents of the area and no injuries as a result of the fire have been reported.
As a precautionary measure the Health Minister recommended that residents with respiratory ailments, or other existing conditions should shelter in place to minimize exposure.
Last Friday, Minister Robinson said that Cabinet approved the reissuance of an invitation to tender (ITT) as an interim measure for the management of the Providenciales landfill while awaiting the Caribbean Development Bank’s project plan outlining the overall enhancement and management of the solid waste facilities in the Turks and Caicos Islands and be extension Providenciales.
Hon. Jamell Robinson said that he will be seeking additional resources to bolster security measures and will have his team liaise with the Joint Law Enforcement Taskforce regarding additional resources to conduct operations in and around the site.
The TCI Minister for Health and Human Services extended special words of thanks to the hardworking men and women of the various firefighting, agencies and the wider network of persons who toiled under very difficult conditions.
Containment and extinguishing operations are ongoing presently and will continue throughout the day. The Minister and his combined team continue to closely monitor the situation and will update the public further as the need arises.