Sunday, February 16, 2014

Landfill Problems in Venezuela

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Check out this article from the blog, Caracas Chronicles, about the landfill problems in Venezuela.  According to the author, solid waste management is the biggest environmental problem in Venezuela (I might argue that pollution from oil production is a larger issue, but that's another blog post).  While there are some waste to energy facilities, garbage collection remains problematic and there are serious problems, such as the burning pile of rubbish in the San Josecito dumping ground noted in the piece.  With the turmoil in the government right now, it doesn't seem likely that the problems will be a priority any time soon.

I remember being in Trujillo, Venezuela in the 1990's in a rain storm.  Huge amounts of garbage were washed into the streets of the town as storm water carried garbage from the densely populated hillsides into the old colonial downtown streets and neighboring river.  Just last year, I was in a park near downtown Caracas and a municipal garbage collection truck filled with garbage pulled up to a fence on the edge of a stream and dumped its load of trash into the valley in the park.

Caracas does have regular garbage collection and there are some state of the art landfills and waste to energy facilities, but it is clear that the application of waste management policy varies significantly from place to place and that there are serious emerging environmental problems as a result of poor policy and procedures.

Garbage is a problem all over the world and I have seen similar problems in Romania, China, Yemen, and Egypt.  Here in Long Island and other parts of the United States we have our own problems.  We burn some of our garbage for energy and ship the remainder great distances for landfilling. There have also been cases of illegal dumping.  I'm sure that where ever you are reading this you'll find some issue in your region with waste management.

Of course, we are huge creators of waste.  One of the best things we can do as individuals to reduce the waste problems is to reduce the amount of waste we produce.  Institutions (business, governments, schools, etc.) should conduct waste audits to determine the kind of waste they are producing in order to figure out how to reduce their waste contributions.  Plus, citizens should stand up and demand that their local environment is protected from bad waste management policy.

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