FEMA helps ease landfill impact

Posted on Feb 01 2019


The Federal Emergency Management Agency is helping local waste management in order to lessen the impact of the debris brought by Super Typhoon Yutu in October last year. There are still some areas in the islands of Saipan and Tinian where there’s still some debris, and the cleanup is expected to end anytime this month.

FEMA Region IX administrator Robert J. Fenton Jr. said that right now all debris and trash left by Yutu go straight to the landfill in Marpi where personnel and other crew painstakingly segregate wastes that can either be burned, compacted, or recycled.

FEMA has also brought in two burners, which arrived last month, to help speed up the disposal of green waste like leaves, tree branches, and wood. Workers also dug in an 8-foot deep pit that is around five feet wide and about 40- to 50-feet long.

“They [workers] just dug the pit and the burners are there. We want to reduce the impact of the landfill and be able to burn as much as wood and green debris as we can. Green and wood waste will be burned while all metals will be compressed, recycled, and sold off-island. Any other waste will be compressed and go to the landfill,” said Fenton.

“We’re trying to minimize the impact of [all typhoon-related] debris on the landfill. Rather than having 300,000 to 500,000 cubic yards of material impacting the landfill and shorten its life expectancy, if we go ahead and burn 200,000 cubic meters of green waste or recycle 100,000 of metal, then what we have is very minimal impact on the landfill.”

“And that’s what we’re trying to do, impact the landfill as little as possible the same in Tinian. What we want to do is to stabilize things and mitigate the problem, but we also want to have a long term and build resiliency into what we’re doing here on Saipan and Tinian as far as the landfill. Recycle the metals and by [February] most of the debris is gone,” added Fenton.

He also advised private home or land owners to be the ones to take care in disposing their debris and other waste brought by Yutu. They can ask for the help of FEMA and other agencies tasked to collect debris and do cleanup.

“I think, it would be a lot of help if we ask for the people to put their debris to their right of way and not just leave it out there. If they can, separate the debris like metals and green wastes, since it makes it easier for the crew to pick it up,” said Fenton.

“Obviously, we don’t remove debris from private property. It is the individual’s responsibility; if we’re going to do this collectively, the individual should move it to their right of way so we can then help remove it from them.”

Jon Perez | Reporter
Jon Perez began his writing career as a sports reporter in the Philippines where he has covered local and international events. He became a news writer when he joined media network ABS-CBN. He joined the weekly DAWN, University of the East’s student newspaper, while in college.

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