Fire in Malta's waste facility showcases environmental problem

After a fire in a local waste facility, Malta's authorities are investigating the risk of local produce contamination.

Daiva Repeckaite
Daiva Repeckaite NewsMavens, Malta
Fire in Malta's waste facility showcases environmental problem - NewsMavens
Waste dump, PixaBay

Why this story matters:

Dramatic photos of black smoke curling around the archipelago of Malta have woken up many to the problem of waste being carelessly discarded into landfills by residents of the country that is the fourth in terms of municipal waste generation per capita in the EU.

The fire originated from refuse-derived fuel. According to the Times of Malta, in the past it used to be put in landfills, and then stored. Following a similar incident at the plant last year, the fuel was being temporarily stored at a cell in Magħtab, and covered with construction material.

As Eurostat data shows, Malta generates by far the most landfill waste per capita, and the urgency of finding a solution to its waste problem can be felt in the debates on the fire. According to environmentalist Martin Galea De Giovanni, what led to the dangerous situation was decades of ignoring the waste problem and putting the waste management system under stress.

Details from the story:

  • The fire erupted in a waste facility in Magħtab on Friday and was brought under control hours later.
  • The Civil Protection Department urged the public to close their windows and wash all fruit and vegetables before consuming, processing or cooking after the blaze.
  • The facility opened around the same time the British were closing their military bases in Malta in 1978. Truckloads of unseparated waste ended up in the valley close to the hamlet of Magħtab.

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