Ministry of Health assesses impact of Tafa’igata fire

By Ivamere Nataro ,

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LIFE GOES ON: Zachariah Filipo appears unfazed by the thick smoke in the background as he takes a bath.

LIFE GOES ON: Zachariah Filipo appears unfazed by the thick smoke in the background as he takes a bath. (Photo: Iain McGregor)

The Director General of the Ministry of Health, Leausa Dr. Take Naseri, says the Ministry is conducting a Health Impact Assessment in relation to the ongoing fire at the Tafa’igata landfill. 

Since the fire broke out on Tuesday, residents living within the vicinity of Tafaigata have expressed concern at thick smoke emanating from the Tafa’igata landfill, saying it could affect their health.

But Leausa told the Samoa Observer yesterday they are aware about the concerns.

 “Timeframe for the health assessment to be completed depends on the situation with the fire and smoke coming from the landfill,” he said.

 “After we investigate and carry out assessment of the situation, we will analyse the findings and recommend ways to counter the problem.”

A statement posted on the Samoa Fire and Emergency Services Authority (S.F.E.S.A.) Facebook   site yesterday says a few excavators from Silva Construction are being used to help clear the access road to allow fire trucks to reach the affected area. 

 “It’s a slow progress but improvements are showing and for that we commend the hard work put in by everyone involved.

 “Government agencies including Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Disaster Management Office, Ministry of Health and S.F.E.S.A. have been working hard to get it under control for the sake of all nearby residents currently suffering from all the smoke as a result of this fire,” the post said.  

The area has been smoggy for the past few days and residents around the area are worried about the health of their young children. 

 “Our greatest concern is our children’s health because they are inhaling gas from burnt toxic waste. We have infants who are exposed to these fumes yet we do not have the power to stop that fire,” resident of Malie-uta, Ielua Ielua told the Samoa Observer. 

 “The fumes came with a very bad smell of burned plastics and tires, it had a strong scent. It affected us all throughout the night. Everything was just covered in smoke. We could not breathe properly. We even used cloths to cover our noses and breathe through it. I was more concerned about my children, especially their health,” Nuu resident, Christopher Warren said. 

Samoa Fire and Emergency Services Authority Assistant C.E.O. Tanuvasa Petono Mauga said they have an agreement with M.N.R.E. to clear the burning area with their machineries. 

 “When we received the call yesterday (Tuesday) because of the fire at the landfill, our team went to see the area and we immediately referred it to the M.N.R.E. because they are able to handle the matter with their heavy machineries,” Tanuvasa said in a telephone interview.

M.N.R.E. Acting Chief Executive Officer, Moafanua Tolusina Pouli said the Ministry will clear the rubbish in the landfill and added that the previous contractor left with their machineries at the end of their contract. 

 “We are working on trying to get a new contractor to work on clearing the rubbish, but at the moment I think the fire has been contained,” he added.

Leausa reiterated after their assessment, they would then recommend the necessary steps to be taken.

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