Environmentalists always say landfills are dangerous to the environment. Now, a landfill landslide in Ethiopia proves that landfill danger can be fatal.
More than 60 people died Saturday night after a landfill in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, gave way. Additionally, the landslide injured dozens more and investigators are still looking for missing people.
Communications Minister Negeri Lencho described the situation as sad. According to Lencho, government officials were trying to relocate the people who lived on top of and near the landfill. They were also in the process of building a factory that converts landfill products into energy.
Fisseha Tekle, chief researcher for Amnesty International in Ethiopia, said the government is not as helpful as it claims. He also said no action was taken prior to the incident to relocate the people around the landfill. He claims the government is “fully responsible for the people living on this site and for their condition of those people who died.”
“It was not able to take residents out of this deplorable situation. Those people are living in the middle of that location,” he said. “It’s not a landfill anymore, it’s like a mountain. Whatever kind of country you are, you cannot let people live in this situation.”
Local officials added to the landfill, called Koshe, for decades. Hundreds of people live on top of or near landfills in makeshift homes. Because of the incident, local officials are attempting to relocate families. So far, they have relocated nearly 300 people who lived on the landfill and were not injured. The families are now in a temporary shelter at a youth center in a nearby city.
Are landfills a reoccurring issue?
This is not the first time a landfill killed multiple people. In December 2015, a landfill in Shenzhen, China gave way, killing 58 people. Police arrested 11 people for neglecting to effectively manage the landfill, including the general manager and site supervisor.
Landfills may be getting too toxic and full to be safe. In 2007, four men died after the fumes of a landfill in Wisconsin were too toxic to inhale. The four men were attempting to save each other after each one collapsed.
The major instances of these landfills are showing that the air pollution and waste overconsumption is hazardous. Aside from landslides, the excessive buildup products excessive methane gas and toxic liquids that can lead to cancer and birth defects.