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Liberia: Environmental Protection Agency Warns against Burning, Burial of Wastes

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MONROVIA – The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has warned against burying garbage which, according to the EPA is “environmentally unfriendly”.

In a release, the EPA said it is particularly alarmed by the increasing rate of unsustainable disposal of municipal solid waste, the pollution of coastal waters and runoff from raw sewage, and air pollution.

“Whilst it is true that solid waste management remains a daunting challenge for the municipalities of Monrovia and Paynesville, the EPA believes we can sustainably dispose our waste thus avoiding major public health crisis,” the Agency stated in the press release.

The EPA referenced Section 62 of the Environmental Protection Management Law (EPML) which prohibits improper solid waste disposal and maintains that no person shall discard, dump or leave any litter on any land, coastal zone or water surface, street, road or site in or on any place to which the public has access, except in a container or at a place which has been specially indicated, provided or set apart for such purpose. 

Burial of municipal solid waste, the EPA said, can cause leachate pollution of surface and ground water, resulting into dire health and environmental consequences especially if the waste contains toxic substances, or if nearby water sources are used for water supply. 

“Waste management by burial is only authorized at a sanitary landfill disposal site, which has the mechanism for trapping leachate that seeps from the waste. Besides surface and ground water contamination, waste burial also has the ability to affect soil quality and reduce agriculture yield,” the release noted.

Plastic generated in Liberia waste stream constitute about 60%, direct burial of waste into the ground will result into the depletion of soil nutrient by clogging pores in the soil, prohibiting the growth of plants.

The EPA is also asking citizens to stop the burning of waste as it poses greater health and environmental risk to everyone. 

“Open burning of waste can result into the direct release of smoke and toxic fumes into the atmosphere affecting the environment. Materials such as plastics have some toxic chemicals which once pre-disposed in the air; may pose not only a danger to the environment but also become a health concern for life,” the EPA stated.

The EPA sends out these cautions as it joins the rest of the world to celebrate World Environment Day (WED) on June 5, 2019. 

“As we celebrate this year’s World Environment Day under the local theme ‘Clean Air, Good Health’, the EPA asks all Liberians to collectively safeguard the Environment by enhancing sustainable Environmental Practices.”

In view of this year’s world Environment day, the EPA cautions all well-meaning Liberians and residents of the city of Monrovia and other cities to avoid venturing into unsustainable waste management practices such as disposing waste by burial or burning.

The Agency acknowledged the right of every citizen to a clean and healthy environment, and said it is willing to work with all relevant stakeholders to ensure “that proper information is provided as we strive collectively for environmental sustainability for now and successive generation”. 

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