Former Solid Waste Manager voices concerns about the health of workers at Cooks Sanitary Landfill


David Spencer, the former Programme Manager at the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) (pronounced En-swama), is concerned about the welfare of workers at the Cooks Sanitary Landfill.

His concern centers on the methane gas that emanates from the waste compacted at the site and its effects on the workers.

Spencer says the odour, especially what emanates from the garbage trucks, comes from a process called leachate, which is a liquid that is generated as waste decomposes.

He says the landfill currently has two sites – including the old cell where bulk waste – except for vehicles and tyres – is stored, and this is compacted on a daily basis.

Pieces of wood and other bulk materials are also kept in that cell, in addition to sewage, Spencer notes, and he admits that this was an embarrassment to him when he was in charge of the Authority.

The combination of all these waste products in the same location produces the awful-smelling stench, the former Manager says; and it is unhealthy for workers at the site, including those who work in the office.

Spencer says there are always combustible materials mixing with the gases, which, in the past, have caused fires to flare at the site.  Fortunately, these have never burned out of control, although smoke is usually being emitted from the old location.

Given these situations, Spencer says the office workers and those who work on the trucks should take precautions.  They should protect themselves from inhalation of the gases, which has the potential to negatively impact their health later in life.