SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – The Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Sint Maarten Pride Foundation has sent a letter to His Excellency Governor Eugene Holiday and to the Dutch Representation Office in Philipsburg Head Chris Johnson with respect to the landfill fires on Pond Island.
The letter reads as follows: “The Sint Maarten Pride foundation, a community environmental nonprofit foundation, has been noting frequent violent landfill fires that have been flaring up before and after hurricane Irma. Even more worrisome is the violent flare up of the second Irma dump on February 4th.
“Our Group has noted that our local government has made no headway with a project of a modern waste to energy plant, or a plan of shipping waste off island.
“Our concern is that it is well known that the landfill has reached its expiration date several years ago and instead of our government placing this issue as a high priority of finding a long-term solution, government instead created a second landfill dumping area.
“This situation is exasperated by the mass waste of post hurricane Irma where not only regular household waste is discarded but also combustible containers and materials that should not be dumped on landfills due to their fire flammable dangers.
“Your excellency, our group is appealing to you as we have lost faith and trust in our local government in ensuring that our citizens health is secured. In fact we are worried that our children and adults are exposed to this environmental hazard and the toxins every single day. The landfill is constantly smoking and too often flares up as raging out of control fires.
“Not only are our firemen exposed trying to battle the constant fires but our residents far and wide are exposed to the foul burning odors.
“We are hereby requesting you to place pressure on our local government to expediently find a long-term solution to this hazard affecting the people’s health.
“Our people should not be expected to walk with face masks and close their windows and doors as a daily exercise. These procedures in fact do not even properly protect anyone from the toxic fumes.
“With this letter we are also appealing to the King of the Netherlands, His Majesty King Willem-Alexander, to intervene on behalf of us the people in his Kingdom, as it appears finding a solution to the landfill is outside the scope of the local authorities.
“With no headway being made by the local politicians and governing bodies, and the instability of our local governments not being able to govern properly due to government falling almost every 12 months, we are left no choice but to appeal to his Majesty, King Willem-Alexander, to intervene.
“No longer should our people wait and hear political rhetoric while our people are dying of cancers and respiratory diseases.
“People in the Dutch kingdom are guaranteed clean air in the constitution and so should it be for those living on Sint Maarten.
“As a community environmental group our focus is not only the environmental hazard but the wellbeing, health and hygiene of our residents and visitors.
“Our livelihood of tourism is at stake but more importantly our health and future livability as a people.
“We trust you will take our appeal on the landfill issue and the raging fires seriously. Our group would like to see a final modern waste solution found immediately. One that we can be proud of, one where our quality of life and our future in health can be guaranteed,” the letter concludes.
The letter to the Governor and the Dutch Representation Office in Philipsburg was signed by Barbara Cannegieter, Secretary of Sint Maarten Pride Foundation and Jadira Veen, President of Sint Maarten Pride Foundation.