Free Newsletters - Space News - Defense Alert - Environment Report - Energy Monitor
. Earth Science News .




FROTH AND BUBBLE
'Toxic bomb' ticks on Maldives rubbish island
by Staff Writers
Male, Maldives (AFP) Oct 17, 2013


Descending by plane into the Maldives offers a panoramic view of azure seas and coral-fringed islands, but as the tarmac nears, billowing smoke in the middle distance reveals an environmental calamity.

Thilafushi Island, a half-hour boat trip from the capital, is surrounded by the same crystal clear waters and white sand that have made the Indian Ocean archipelago a honeymoon destination for the rich and famous.

But no holidaymaker sets foot here and none could imagine from their plane seats that the rising smoke is the waste from residents and previous visitors being set alight by men like 40-year-old Fusin.

A migrant from Bangladesh, he is one of several dozen employees on "Rubbish Island" -- the biggest waste dump in the country where he's paid $350 a month for 12-hour shifts, seven days a week.

With no safety equipment bar a pair of steel-capped boots, he clambers over a stinking mountain of garbage, eyes streaming and voice choked after four years' exposure to thick, toxic fumes.

Beneath his feet lie the discards of the cramped capital Male and the local tourism industry that has helped turn the collection of more than 1,000 islands into the wealthiest country in South Asia.

Bottles of beer -- illegal for local Muslims but ubiquitous on tourists' islands -- lie scorched next to piles of half-burnt hotel forms requesting speed boat transfers.

A discarded plastic diving mask lies in a heap of packets of juice, plastic bags and rotting vegetables that awaits Fusin's attention.

"Before we used to separate cardboard and glass, but now the company is not so strong," says site manager Islam Uddin, a friendly man who has worked here for 16 years.

He complains of neglect from successive governments and laments that a privatisation deal signed in 2008 with a German-Indian waste management company has stalled as a result of local political upheaval.

Only plastic bottles, engine oil, metals and paper are collected, with the waste sent by boat to India, forming the biggest export from the Maldives to its giant neighbour to the northeast.

All of the rest, including electronics that escape the attention of hundreds of human scavengers and batteries, go up in flames -- with no sign of the high-tech incinerators promised as part of the privatisation deal.

"The batteries contain lead. There are products with mercury in them. All of these can easily get into the food chain," says Ali Rilwan, an environmentalist with local organisation Bluepeace Maldives.

"Unlike landfill, this is the ocean they are filling."

As he speaks, waves lap at the edge of the dump which has been expanding steadily into the sea since 1993 and upwards -- forming one of the highest points in the whole country, 80 percent of which is less than a metre above sea level.

He cites government figures showing visitors to the Maldives created on average 7.2 kilograms of waste per day, compared with 2.8 kilograms for residents of Male, which make up a third of the 350,000-strong population.

Tourists, at nearly a million last year, outnumber locals by a ratio of about three-to-one.

Open burning

Local authorities plan to stop the toxic open burning on the island and the private operator of the site, finally set to start work after a five-year delay, will build an incinerator.

Better waste management in the capital Male through door-to-door collection and recycling will also help to reduce environmental damage, says a city councillor from the capital, Ahmed Kareem.

"The project that is going ahead will monitor air pollution and also the sea pollution near Thilafushi Island and so no further expansion by waste will be done for Thilafushi," Kareem told AFP.

The Maldives Association of Tourism Industry declined repeated interview requests from AFP seeking comment on efforts of resorts to reduce their environmental impact.

Site manager Islam is hopeful he will get new machinery allowing them to move waste more easily and sort it. Rows of broken diggers and bulldozers sit nearby in a vehicle graveyard.

Behind him as he talks stands a row of palm trees discarded by a hotel resort which were planted in an incongruous attempt to beautify a place of toxic smoke clouds and buzzing swarms of flies.

The trunks are blackened and the leaves are missing.

"They died," Islam smiles.

.


Related Links
Our Polluted World and Cleaning It Up






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





FROTH AND BUBBLE
Pulp friction cleans up 'Brockovich' chemical
London, UK (SPX) Oct 16, 2013
A byproduct of the manufacture of pulp using the sulfite process for making paper, sodium lignosulfonate, can be used to immobilize and soak up toxic chromium compounds from soil and water, according to research published in the International Journal of Innovation and Sustainable Development. Konstantin Volchek and Carl Brown of Environment Canada, and Dario Velicogna of Velicogna Consulta ... read more


FROTH AND BUBBLE
U.S. businesses warned against Sandy-like disasters

Open air surgery as Philippines struggles to help quake victims

Italy launches sea patrol as Sicily declares emergency

Italy deploys drones, warships after refugee tragedies

FROTH AND BUBBLE
SES Partners With ESA To Develop Innovative Satellite Platform Electra

British engineers hope to reboot 50-year-old computer

Circadian rhythms in skin stem cells protect us against UV rays

Northwestern Researchers Develop Compact, High-Power Terahertz Source at Room Temperature

FROTH AND BUBBLE
Pacific man bids to become first climate change refugee

Predators vs. alien: European shrimps win predatory battles with an American invader

Rising Sea Levels Threaten Everglades Freshwater Plants

Complex relationship between phosphorus and nitrogen removal in lakes

FROTH AND BUBBLE
Nobel laureates call on Putin to drop piracy charges against Greenpeace

Nobel winners urge Russia to drop Greenpeace piracy charges

Australia, US put heat on Russia over Antarctic sanctuaries

The tundra a dark horse in planet Earth's greenhouse gas budget

FROTH AND BUBBLE
Paraguay's Cartes vetoes grain export tax

Unregulated, agricultural ammonia threatens national parks' ecology

Badgers ultimately responsible for around half of TB in cattle

France's Dumex pledges change after China bribery claims

FROTH AND BUBBLE
Japan rescuers search mudslide for typhoon survivors

Hopeless search as Philippine quake death toll hits 151

Water and lava, but - curiously - no explosion

Storm Octave on Mexico Pacific coast weakens

FROTH AND BUBBLE
Zimbabwe man jailed for 15 years for poisoning elephants

France to keep 2,000 troops in Mali until end of year

U.S. builds up military bases in Italy for African ops

Mali ex-coup leader moves out of army barracks

FROTH AND BUBBLE
1.8-million-year-old skull find creates debate over human origins

New theory of synapse formation in the brain

The Longevity of Human Civilizations

Hunters and farmers lived side-by-side for 2,000 years




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement