Mixing waste hazardous to health – environmental services firm

Many Guyanese are unaware of the fact that lack of separation of household waste before disposal can be hazardous to human health and adds to the existing chemical pollutants that come from industrial and manufacturing companies, when mixed waste is disposed at the Haags Bosch Landfill Site.

A statement from Clean & Green Guyana /Guyenterprise said that this was pointed out by Country Coordinator of Kaizen Environmental Services (Guyana) Limited, Vishnu Doerga, in a recent interview.

The Country Coordinator said, “In Guyana we have a situation where the separation of waste is not being done so you would have organic, inorganic and hazardous and nonhazardous waste being mixed together and what happens when you do mix these types of waste as we do in Guyana, the entire product becomes hazardous waste.”

Doerga added that the longer the various types of waste remain mixed together, the more difficult they become to treat.

He said that Kaizen is seeking to make Guyanese aware about the effects of hazardous waste, as well as to provide solutions and remedies in mitigating pollutants.

The Country Coordinator said that persons might wonder who could be affected by such waste if it was already at the landfill site. He explained that for a start, it affects the waste pickers who work at the site but it can also affect residents within proximity of the landfill.

Doerga pointed out that currently pickers come into contact with medical and other chemical waste at the Haags Bosch site. “What happens when we have medical waste mixed in between the general waste, is that these people are then put at risk and if they get their hands cut or pricked by a needle… the risk of contamination is therefore extremely high,” he added.

He also highlighted the problem of improperly disposed toxic items, giving the following example. “We would have the effects of items such as batteries and these are not only the automobile batteries but regular household batteries, and they all contain heavy metal which does not break down… so you would have nickel and cadmium which should have been recycled… these chemicals leach into the ground.”

This contamination, he said, can eventually enter water streams that are used for agriculture, aquaculture and even drinking purposes. He also pointed out that the fumes that emanates from mixed waste substances are dangerous to health.

“Usually there are very large buffer zones between landfill sites and residential communities.

…With active landfill sites, the buffers are usually between two to five kilometres away from either a human population to live nearby or for agriculture. Unfortunately I think our buffer has now been reduced to less than a kilometre,” Doerga said.

He said that this was where Kaizen Environmental Services comes in as it provides all the analytical services for toxic and nontoxic chemicals.

According to the release, Kaizen is a Canadian firm, with a large operation in Trinidad for the last 20 years and with a more recent service in Suriname.

Doerga said that the firm was in the process of establishing a physical presence in Guyana, since it recognised the need for its services to analyse waste chemicals as well as to promote the curbing of the current way in which households and companies in particular dispose of their waste.

He said that it is also expects to create jobs at the “medium and high scale levels” which “will ensure that talents and brainpower are preserved in Guyana.”

The firm tests for wet chemicals, tests for toxicity, can test for “nearly any material under the sun to be able to indicate what the levels are and if they are within acceptable levels” and also can make recommendations [to mitigate such].

“A lot of the pollution that occurs currently in Guyana goes unchecked, if we don’t measure it, in our minds it doesn’t exist,” Doerga noted.

The Kaizen Country Coordinator revealed that the company currently provides services to a number of local companies but all materials are shipped to its Trinidad and Canada locations to be tested.

He said that this was because the company is in the process of identifying land in Guyana with suitable soil type on which to execute its work.

Doerga pointed out, “We need to have an impervious layer below the remediation site because currently there are materials which are being sold as impervious but if we don’t test the chemicals that we place upon these materials, certain chemicals by the reactions they cause, they can damage nearly any type of material that you put there… fortunately in Trinidad we are located on the asphalt lake.”

The release said that Kaizen has pledged its support to help create awareness about the dangers of the non-separation of waste in Guyana, and to help in mitigating toxic chemicals that currently exist.

The Country Coordinator is also urging organisations and individuals to take a vigilant and more health conscious approach when disposing their waste.

‘Clean & Green for a better Guyana’ is the Community Participation and Public Awareness Programme facilitated by Guyenterprise for the Inter American Bank-financed Georgetown Solid Waste Management Programme of the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development.

 



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