SIBU: The underground fire at the closed Seng Ling dumpsite shows how important it is for Sibu Municipal Council (SMC) to continue monitoring the place even after its closure.
Bukit Assek assemblyman Irene Chang said studies had shown that even when not in operation, open landfills still contain and release gases which were harmful to people staying in the area.
“SMC therefore still needs to carefully monitor and maintain Seng Ling dumpsite for up to 30 years following its closure last April, ” she said.
Chang said the council has to ensure that the post-closure care was in accordance to recommended guidelines to ensure that the waste was not leaking and polluting the surrounding environment.
“Proactive steps need to be taken to ensure that SMC practises post-closure care.
“And this care and management is effective in monitoring, eventually leading up to the final cover system to minimise the infiltration of liquids and soil erosion in the dumpsite and surrounding areas, ” she added.
Chang said she had been keeping in touch with the Fire and Rescue Department to find out the latest status of efforts to douse the underground fire which occurs yearly and sometimes twice or three times a year.
The council, she said, needed to double its efforts in locating the fire source and come up with solutions to prevent this from occurring on a regular basis.
“The Fire and Rescue Department has been keeping me informed through pictures and videos which show that they, together with SMC, are currently digging the area to find out the source of the fire.
“I hope they can resolve it as soon as possible to prevent prolonged exposure to smoke inhalation for the people staying in the neighbourhood, ” she said.
On squatters staying around the landfills, she said the council should urge the state Local Government and Housing Ministry to relocate them.
“When the presence of the squatters was first detected in October last year, we were made to understand that the state government would look into their relocation.
“Since then, it seems that nothing has been done. Instead, Land and Survey Department served a notice to the squatters to vacate the place by April 12 this year, ” she said.
A trench was also dug across the access road to prevent the squatters from accessing the area.
But this had obviously not stopped the squatters from continuing to occupy the land and there was still no news of the resettlement of the squatters.
She said in May this year, she had again raised the matter at the State Legislative Assembly on plans to relocate the squatters.
However, there was no response by the minister concerned.
“SMC, as the local authority in Sibu, should therefore convince the Local Government and Housing minister to do the needful for these people as I believe that this land belongs to the state, ” she said.