Fire at Vaini landfill

NUKU’ALOFA-December 27: 12.05pm (MEIDECC): A fire at Tapuhia Solid Waste Management Facility located at Vaini, Tongatapu has been brought under control.

A team from the Environment Department here in Nuku’alofa visited the site and downgraded the ‘controlled’ landfill to ‘uncontrolled’ status.

According to Deputy Fire Commissioner, Mr Sinamoni Kauvaka, the incident was reported to the Tonga Fire and Emergency Services by the caretaker at Tapuhia Solid Waste Management Facility at around 10am on Sunday the 25th of December 2016.

By the time the Fire Services arrived, the landfill fire had moved from minor outbreak in the surface to massive.

Mr Kauvaka added that a landfill fire of this magnitude will probably take longer than expected to eliminate.

All efforts are being made to control the fire with assistance from the National Emergency Management Office (NEMO), His Majesty’s Armed Forces, Tonga Police, Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources and the private sector.

Asessment are being made to the likely impact to the environment and human health such as air pollution and possible leachate to the water resource as a result of the fire.

The cause of the surface fire is unknown at this stage.

However, it is suspected that a heat source of some type had contacted the surface causing the fire to occur.  Further investigation will be made to determine the actual cause of the landfill fire at a later date.

Tapuhia Solid Waste Management Facility was officially opened in 2006 and was designed to protect the groundwater resource.  The facility has a public area for recycling and dropping off general waste, cells to treat general waste, and septage beds for waste from the septic trucks.


For more information, please contact the Tonga Fire and Emergency Services or the Police Station or National Emergency Management Office at 7863534 or Environment Department at 7717182.


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