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NEWS | Wednesday, 27 February 2008

If flowers are dying at Maghtab, how will Sant grow turf for golf?

Karl Schembri

Denied entry into the Maghtab landfill, Labour leader Alfred Sant yesterday gave a press conference on the Coast Road to show journalists that the newly planted trees and flowers – which according to the Nationalist Party’s billboards should be blossoming soon – are actually dying.
Pointing at trucks entering the facility, Sant said the area was still being used as a rubbish dump despite the government’s claims that it was closed.
“We’re getting all this propaganda about how Maghtab will blossom with flowers, so we came here to see for ourselves how true this is,” Sant said. “As you can see, rubbish trucks are still entering the site, so it’s not true that the rubbish dump has been closed. And the scene behind us shows the flowers are nothing but a political gimmick. They’re dying because of toxic gases. The flowers are dying even before the election, when usually promises are left to die only afterwards.”
The site has been promoted and opened to the public in official open days as the Environment Landscape Consortium tries turning the mountain made of decades of rubbish and toxins into a park with over 2,000 trees and bushes.
But Sant said this was only a publicity stunt and promised to close Maghtab down, rehabilitate it and turn it into a golf course.
Asked for a date when the Maghtab dump would be fully closed if he is elected to government, Sant said experts would be asked to evaluate the site to get it closed “at the earliest date possible”.
Sant reiterated his belief that the area could be turned into a stand-alone golf course, besides the park that is being constructed. He was asked how golf turf could grow if, as he was saying, flowers were dying on site.
“We would close off the area in a serious manner, with a membrane and vents, not as is happening right now, with gases coming out from everywhere,” Sant said.
When asked if he intended razing Maghtab to the ground, Sant avoided the question but said later the gradients could be adjusted according to the golf course requirements.

Left out with the rubbish
Sant tried entering the Maghtab landfill but was stopped at the gates by personnel who told him he needed Wasteserv’s authorisation to be allowed inside.
A press release issued by Wasteserv later said that as a controlled facility, entry into Maghtab required “strict authorisation” in order to avoid safety hazards.
“Wasteserv has organised open days for the public in the recent past and has also coordinated scheduled press activities, always after receiving requests in advance, so as the necessary precautionary measures can be taken, in the interests of safety,” the statement said.
Another statement issued by the environment ministry slammed Sant for making conflicting statements in the same press conference.
“In the same breath, Dr Alfred Sant this morning said that the dump was still open, that he wanted to see the garden in Maghtab, that he wanted the works on the park started by this government to resume, and that he wanted to incorporate his idea of a golf course with the existing proposal that Maghtab becomes a park,” the statement said.
“This is utter confusion by someone who realised that this government has tackled waste management seriously,” the statement said.
The ministry said the trucks entering the site were heading towards the Ghallis engineered landfill carrying inert waste from the same Maghtab gate.
About gas extraction, the ministry said up to €8.3 million were invested to install steel pipes that would extract dangerous gases.
And in yet another statement, Environment Landscape Consortium, which is entrusted with the trees planted on site, said the majority of the plants and trees were still healthy.
It said it would be speculation at this point to say that the trees were about to die, as they required time to adjust to their new environment, while it would be a natural process for a small percentage of them to die in the process.



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27 February 2008

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