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MPs warn, over 100 illegal dumpsites increase the risk of fires


The House environment committee received testimony on Wednesday regarding the approximately 120 illegal dumpsites that exist in Cyprus. Over the past two years, the Fire Service has been requested to put out flames at 45 of these sites, just in Nicosia.

MPs pressed the government to act right now.

Charalambos Theopemptou, MP for the Green Party and committee chairman, also revealed to reporters during the meeting that a Paphos dumpsite that had caught fire the previous week had been put out, only for it to flare up again a short while later and produce a significant fire that affected the villages of Polemi, Psathi, and Choulou.

Theopemptou continued, saying that while the responsible authorities notified MPs of the about 120 known illicit dumpsites in Cyprus, he and other committee members think the real number may be twice or three times higher.

Theopemptou said “The situation is unacceptable, a real failure in household waste management, which denotes a lack of inspection,”

Theopemptou also mentioned the possibility of spontaneous combustion caused by extremely combustible gases released by buried natural materials at dumpsites.

Citing successful practices elsewhere, Theopemptou proposed the establishment of local green spots where individuals can dispose of certain combustible and dangerous waste within towns and villages.

He also emphasised the necessity of altering waste management practices and putting in place safeguards like controlled grazing, volunteer training, firebreaks, and community support for quick reaction.

Disy MP Savia Orphanidou stated during the meeting that in addition to polluting the environment, “dumpsites are a significant fire hazard, as evidenced by the recent fire in Paphos.”
Orphanidou brought up an official acknowledgement from the Fire Service that, five days prior to the catastrophic Paphos incident, there had been a fire at an illegal dumpsite.

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Orphanidou added “Despite being alerted, no effective action was taken to prevent the subsequent disaster,” stating that after the closure of dumpsites in Kotsiatis and Vati in 2019, the issue of illegal dumpsites has gotten worse.

Similar to Theopemptou, Orphanidou demanded that the relevant state and municipal authorities take prompt action, going beyond research and talks.

Orphanidou said “We need a comprehensive approach to environmental restoration, as much as we need to strengthen monitoring mechanisms and waste management,” mentioning that putting cameras in troublesome locations would be a workable way to stop some issues.

Despite earlier promises from many agencies on their preparedness, Akel MP Nikos Kettiros noted that only verbal promises were given and no concrete steps were taken.

Kettiros brought attention to the problem of the over 100 unlawful dumpsites that still exist and ought to be closed ever since Cyprus became a member of the European Union.

Additionally, Kettiros brought attention to the ongoing underground fire at a dumpsite in the area of Famagusta, which “keeps emitting harmful substances, with no one taking responsibility.”

Diko MP Chrysanthos Savvides equated the flames to “a modern-day Hydra,” emphasising the necessity for society and the government to adapt to changing climatic circumstances and periods and take preventative measures.

Savvides criticised the absence of environmental protection measures which escalate the risk of fire, like purchasing aircraft, setting up security cameras, and sealing landfills.

Savvides also emphasised the need for prevention and brought up the marginalisation of rural areas, which results in an increase in flammable material then added “However, the government is showing concrete support for fire victims who have lost their property, irrigation systems and crops,”

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(Source: Cyprus Mail)

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