30 Dec 2016

Warning around Tonga landfill remains

7:18 am on 30 December 2016

Warnings for the public to stay clear of smoke and toxic fumes around a landfill in Tonga are still in place.

Fire at Tapuhia landfill in Tonga

Fire at Tapuhia landfill in Tonga Photo: Matangi Tonga

The warnings were issued by the Government on Tuesday after firefighters had been battling a massive blaze at the Tapuhia Landfill which started on Christmas Day.

About 20 firefighters were sent to Tapuhia on Christmas Day, assisted by an emergency team of 50 members from the defence services, police, and the National Emergency Management Office.

Local firefighter Semisi Otulau says firefighters are still working to ensure the fire is completely extinguished.

He says there are still toxic fumes being emitted from hot spots that remain.

"It is our biggest fire because some of the rubbish and you know many chemicals there. Like vehicles and broken things you know. It's hard to breathe," he said.

In a statement the government said the likely impact to the environment and human health through the emission of toxic fumes has also been reduced greatly, however, nearby communities are hereby advised to proceed with caution while outdoors until the fumes are no longer visible.

The landfill was part of a $US1.21 million ($2.7 million pa'anga) project, funded by the Australian Government, the Tongan Government and the Asian Development Bank and was handed over nearly two years ago on 13 January 2015.

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