HARARE – Harare City Council (HCC)’s failure to collect garbage and its poor waste management record could pose a potential health risk to residents, the Environmental Management Agency (Ema) said.
Ema’s education officer Liberty Mugadza told the Daily News last week that the current model of dumping waste at Pomona and Golden Quarry dumpsites is not ideal as they promote contamination.
“Adhering to waste collection is a problem for council and the Pomona dumpsite is not the proper facility because the current trend is using landfills that are lined to prevent pollution emanating from the landfills.
“The leeching from those dumpsites can affect our water system because of their model which is only to dispose of waste. There is a long way to go in achieving the clean healthy environment,” Mugadza said.
Last year HCC was warned by the army to properly dispose of refuse at Pomona landfill or decommission the site after a fire broke out and caused air pollution close to the army barracks, affecting nearby residents.
According to the army, the landfill poses a health risk to people in its precincts due to flies and odour.
According to Mugadza, although HCC submitted proposals to generate power from waste at Pomona a new landfill is the only way to go.
He said from earlier correspondence the problem that arose was of tenure as most sites identified by HCC were not in the city.
“The actual problem is that HCC does not own the land that is surrounding Harare so securing an ideal location for a landfill is a tenure issue. They need to get the right land from the right authorities first,” he said.
HCC had identified land in Mount Hampden but the site was rejected as it was too close to Charles Prince Airport.
During the Pomona fire last year Ema publicity manager Steady Kangata said ideally not all waste should be disposed of at dumpsites, as some materials are recyclable.
He said the current waste disposal method being used is very costly because it involves generations of waste, transportation and disposal- all without recycling.
“There needs one site as a landfill and another for hazardous substances. At the moment hazardous waste such as batteries are all dumped at Pomona despite them requiring to be separated.
“Only a small percentage of non-recyclable material is supposed to come to the landfill,” Kangata said.
He added that when plastics end up in landfills and burn as in the Pomona fire, toxins such as dioxins are released into the environment and become hazardous to human health.