From 21 January 2019, a team from RIVM will travel to Sint Maarten to make measurements and take samples at various locations around the landfill in Philipsburg. Fires are a regular occurrence at the landfill. The measurements and samples are needed to estimate potential risks to the health of people in the vicinity of the landfill.
The dense clouds of smoke generated by smouldering fires and occasional outbreaks of fire at the landfill affect many people in the vicinity. Over the longer term, it is not clear exactly what health risks these fires could pose. RIVM’s Environmental Incident Service has specialised equipment for making measurements and taking samples. Using these measurements and samples, RIVM will check whether certain substances have been released that are harmful to people’s health in the long term.
This measurement and risk assessment work will be carried out at the instruction of Sint Maarten’s Ministry of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure (VROMI). The investigation is being funded by the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations. RIVM’s team will spend at least two weeks in the area, taking samples and making measurements. If there are no outbreaks of fire during those two weeks, the team may extend its stay.