Al Amerat residents complain about waste dump site causing pollution

Oman Wednesday 06/April/2016 23:16 PM
By: Times News Service
Al Amerat residents complain about waste dump site causing pollution

Muscat: Muscat Municipal Council has received complaints from residents in Al Amerat about air pollution caused by a waste dump near Al Mahaj, Ali Al Maashari, a member of the Municipal Council representing Al Amerat, said.
“We have received dozens of complaints from residents reporting a suffocating smell in their area,” he said.
Al Maashari said the number of complaints, which have repeatedly surfaced for years, have increased after the recent rains, since the pollution becomes worse in the area after rain, as the water washes away material from the dump site.
But people are affected despite the rain.
“Humidity in combination with the sun causes gases to emerge from the dump site,” he said.
“We share the concerns of the residents of Al Mahaj about pollution caused by vapours arising from the site. It disturbs the daily lives of the residents. The smell has a negative effect on the health of society,” he said.
Al Maashari further said the Muscat Municipality had tried to extract gases from the site, but they were still emerging from the area.
The Times of Oman visited the site, tucked away in the hills on the fringes of Al Amerat, and experienced the stench, even as trucks were seen dumping their waste, which included mainly construction waste.
“We call upon the Muscat Municipality and the Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs to find a solution for this worrying issue. We propose to have the gases removed from the site and the site to be redeveloped into a park or industrial area to meet the needs of the area,” he said.
Qais Al Kashri, director of Health Affairs at the Muscat Municipality, acknowledged that waste dumped at the site for years had resulted in methane gas to arise from the site in the summer, occasionally causing small fires.
“Our staff members at the site are doing everything they can to counter it,” he said.
He added that eight years ago, general waste had been transferred to the Al Multaqa landfill in Al Amerat and that since then, the site had only been used to dump construction waste.
TOO, however, witnessed old tires being dumped at the site.
In response to the residents’ concerns, Al Kashri said the site would be rehabilitated by Oman Environmental Services Company “Be’ah,” which is responsible for waste management in Oman.
“It was agreed that Be’ah would rehabilitate the site,” he said.
A senior official from Be’ah said the dump site in Al Amerat would be closed and rehabilitated once it took over the waste sector from the Muscat Municipality in 2017.
“Existing dumpsites, including the site in Al Amerat, will be closed and rehabilitated. An environmental assessment programme will be conducted for each dumpsite, helping Be’ah decide on the most cost-effective and environmentally friendly method to remediate the dumpsite,” the official said.
He added that to control the damage done, Be’ah had embarked on an “aggressive” plan to close all existing dumpsites and replace them with engineered landfills and transfer stations across the country.
“Uncontrolled dumpsites existed for many years in Oman and all sorts of mixed waste streams, hazardous and nonhazardous, are dumped in unprotected trenches or dumping sites. It is estimated that there are more than 300 dumpsites scattered across the country that are polluting soil, water, and air causing fires, unpleasant odours and they contribute to gas emissions,” he said.
He added that as the infrastructure is being laid out, experienced companies are planning to provide municipal waste management services that include pre-collection, collection, transportation, treatment, and disposal.
“One of our main objectives is to control environmental damage incurred during decades of traditional waste dumping processes,” he stated.
Al Maashari said recycling is also needed to avoid pollution.
“We stress the need for quickly starting recycling waste and limit dumping of waste in the Governorate of Muscat and other governorates of the country, in order to protect the environment and health and safety of society,” he said.
The official from Be’ah said they are working towards implementing modern waste management aimed at reducing the amount of waste going into the engineered landfills.
“It would be expected for the waste to be segregated at the source into two bins, dry and wet and then transferred to the material recovery facilities. These facilities would segregate the recyclables and wet waste and transfer them to either recycling, compost or waste-to-energy-to-water facilities. The rejects from these facilities would then be diverted to the engineered landfills,” he said.
He also said the waste-to-energy-to-water facility is a national project, whereby waste is thermally treated to generate steam and energy, which is then fed into a desalination plant to produce sweet water. It is expected that this project will generate roughly 30 per cent of Oman’s desalinated water requirement.