By Bejay Browne
RESIDENTS living close to a controversial rubbish tip in Paphos are demanding immediate action is taken over toxic fumes which are spewing out from fires burning at the site.
Residents, backed by the Paphos Greens, demonstrated outside the town hall on Monday evening, demanding that the site be shut down for good.
The tip is found close to a landfill site, and is only supposed to accept soil and C and D (construction and demolition) waste from building sites. The site had been closed down but was reopened by the government last May, as a temporary fix until a new site is up and running.
“We have had hundreds and hundreds of complaints, and this is an urgent matter of protecting people’s health. It has been an ongoing problem for five years and the dump needs to be closed down,” Paphos Green party district secretary, Andreas Evlavis, told the Cyprus Mail.
Evlavis said that although the rubbish site was only supposed to accept a few specific materials, it was obvious that the belching smoke and suffocating fumes are being caused by the burning of toxic materials such as tyres.
“The mayor of Paphos and the district office visited the site last week and admitted the situation was bad, but only offered a temporary solution, which is to try and cover the fire over to stop it burning.”
Mayor of Paphos, Phedonas Phedonos, said on Monday that he was hoping for a swift conclusion to the problem, which he admitted was a difficult one.
“Unfortunately, there is a mountain of rubbish which is being affected, as in this area the pile is about 52m high following 20 years of dumping rubbish,” he said.
“In places, the fires are around 50 m down. We will have a meeting with the environmental department and the district office today, to see what can be done. Usually, soil is put on to cover it, but this is not suitable for all of the smouldering areas.”
However, Evlavis said that the only way to fix the problem for good was to shut the landfill down completely. He added that the area was full and had been for some time.
“People are very worried as there has been an increase in the number of cancer cases in the area and they believe it’s all connected. It’s tragic that the authorities are doing nothing. This is having a terrible effect on the health of everyone in the area, especially small babies and children, it’s got to be stopped,” he said.
Over the past month, thousands of residents of Marathounda, Ayia Marinouda, Acheleia and Yeroskipou have been subjected to fumes caused by the uncontrolled burning, he said.
He added that the problem was particularly bad in the evenings and residents of surrounding villages have to keep all doors and windows tightly shut.
“I live in Yeroskipou and have to stay in my house with everything closed, the smell is very strong and I don’t live close to the site,” he said.
A spokesman for Paphos municipality confirmed that a location for a new rubbish site nearby is the subject of a current tender process.