Chennai: Perungudi landfill catches fire, thick fumes poison air – Times of India

Chennai News

CHENNAI: A thick blanket of smoke engulfed Perungudi after the landfill near the Pallikaranai marshland caught fire on Wednesday, leading to breathing difficulty and poor visibility in the surrounding areas. Birds were seen fleeing the ecologically sensitive spot due to the toxic air. Yuvan, a naturalist and a resident of Velachery, said the smoke covered most of the houses within a radius of 3km from the marshland.
“The wetland is proposed to be a Ramsar site but such a catastrophe can happen again if there is a dump yard,” he said.
Officials said the fire caused because of the summer heat was intensifying due to the presence of methane in the landfill. Zonal officer of Perungudi P V Srinivasan said the incident happened around 4pm and six fire engines and 15 Metrowater tankers were pressed into service.
The legacy waste size in the landfill is 36 lakh cubic metres and about 2,000 tonnes of waste is dumped at the landfill daily. The unsegregated waste includes plastic, steel, tin, rags and paper. Studies have also found that the landfill has 21% carbon content and presence of salt, heavy metals, chemicals from plastic and methane.
Environmentalist Geo Damin, who is part of TN’s solid waste management committee, said burning of carcinogens like dioxin and furan can cause cancer. “People will be inhaling this for at least three days even if the flames are doused. The bird nesting area nearby too will be affected,” he said.