With works for another extension to the ever-growing landfill at Magħtab in full swing, excavated rock and construction waste is being dumped in fields adjacent to the waste facility, forming a new ‘waste mountain’, causing concerns among thousands of residents in the area, particularly those living on the outskirts of Naxxar, Għargħur, Madliena and Baħar ic-Ċagħaq.
The Shift is informed that Rockcut Ltd – the contractor given a €5 million contract by Wasteserv to excavate some half a million cubic metres of rock from the area to extend the current landfill – is dumping most of the waste in fields nearby, instead of disposing of it in an orderly way in permitted dumping sites.
The Shift has also received unconfirmed reports that the excavated material, considered to be a valuable resource for the construction industry, is also being sold to other contractors to be used as aggregate to produce concrete and other related construction materials.
Asked by The Shift to explain why this is being allowed at Magħtab – an already very disturbed area – Wasteserv CEO Richard Bilocca ignored the question and said instead that “all works are covered by permits”.
The CEO, a political appointee of Environment Minister Aron Farrugia, also declined to explain why tens of thousands of cubic metres of excavated material is being dumped in fields instead of in designated dumping sites.
A spokesperson for the Planning Authority, which is supposed to be monitoring the works and ensuring that all is being done according to permit, said that it was according to plan.
“Since the material being excavated is of very good quality, it is being temporarily stored for reuse on this adjacent site, outside the Echohive Complex as per approved Works Method Statement. An Environmental Permit EP1435/21 has been issued by ERA for the storage of this excavated material,” the Planning Authority said.
Malta has been battling with the problem of waste for decades, consistently coming up short in terms of sustainable, long term waste management plans. The government has now embarked on its latest last-minute solution because the current engineered landfill is almost full, with no other location earmarked for the disposal of the island’s municipal waste.
This latest ‘solution’ involved ordering Wasteserv to dig out more rock, adjacent to the current landfill, to extend it further inland.
To that end, the Planning Authority last year issued a permit to allow the current landfill to be extended significantly, giving the island a few more years of breathing space before the problem of a lack of space returns.
In the meantime, the government is planning an incinerator, also set to be located within the Magħtab complex.
While the plans for the waste-to-energy project were announced several years ago, the process is still at tendering stage.
The application for the latest extension of the Magħtab landfill was presented to the Planning Authority by architect William Lewis – the organising secretary of the ruling Labour Party. His private office has been the recipient of numerous direct orders for public works over the past years.
Featured photo: Magħtab photographed last month, showing the new waste mountain being created by Wasteserv.