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Thilafushi lagoon fill, with used batteries, asbestos, lead and other potentially hazardous waste mixed with the municipal solid wastes, is an increasingly serious ecological and health problem in the Maldives.
Even though batteries and e-waste are quite a small fraction of municipal waste disposed at the Thilafushi, they are a concerted source of toxic heavy metals such as mercury, lead and cadmium. Chemicals can leach out into water table or sea and endanger the surrounding sea and reefs.
Potentially hazardous wastes are not sorted at the collection or disposal ends in Thilafushi. However, nowadays at the disposal site at Thilafushi and in the main collection centre in Male, scrap metals such as copper, tin, zinc, steel, plastic bottle, cardboard boxes and used oil are sorted. According to the Custom Statistics scrap metal is the major export from Maldives to India.
There are no recycling facilities for the safe disposal for the hazardous waste such as used batteries, lead, asbestos and mercury in the Maldives. Asbestos are mainly found in the Maldives as corrugated asbestos-cement sheets or “A/C Sheets” locally know as Simenthi tinu (Cement roofing sheets).
A growing number of mobile phone and electronic equipment purchases in the country and rising number of tourist arrivals in the recent decades lead to an increase in disposal of used batteries and other potentially harmful electronic or e-waste. These are mixed with municipal waste and are inappropriately disposed in the Maldives.
Likewise, e-waste with other hazardous waste such as mercury, lead and cadmium in the used batteries can mix in the salt water at Thilafushi dump and cause even more danger.
The scariest part is that unlike the landfill, in a lagoon fill or sea fill, toxics chemicals can easily seep out into the coastal zone and enter into the lower level in the food web, algae, zooplankton, and fish. Once these toxics chemicals are released it is very difficult to remove them from the food web and can end up on our dinner plate in fish or lobsters.
Bluepeace strongly feels the solution to the issue of Hazardous Waste can only be addressed within a National Framework for Solid Waste Management in the Maldives. There are a number of studies by different organizations on Solid Waste Disposal for the Maldives, including hazardous waste. Most of the studies have gathered dust on bookshelves. We would like to hear the perspectives of concerned citizens about the issue.
The following are some of the reports by experts:
JICA. (1998). The Study on Solid Waste Management for Male City
‘National Framework for Solid Waste Management in the Maldives’ project by UNDP and the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Water. www.mv.undp.org... [link not available anymore]
Maldives: State of the Environment 2002 www.rrcap.unep.org...
Originally posted by Silcone Synapse
This is a sad example of how we as a species go for short term gains over long term sustainability.
All those well off people who go to the Maldives on holiday are contributing to this waste dump,(and also eating small parts of it back in the fish they consume).
It is also a perfect example of our larger society in a microscopic scale-The supposedly rich in their clean posh beach resorts,yet round the corner is toxic death,creeping ever closer.