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Wednesday, April 16 2014 @ 06:19 AM EDT

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50 Traffic Units Guarantee A Safe Return To The Citizens

Safety & SecurityTraffic Police will implement today, Monday 29 April 2013, the operating system on the return to the capital, the inversion of the road lanes starting from midday to 6:00 pm.

The Chief of the Traffic Police, Elmer Martínez said, they will invert the left lane going towards the interior of the country and placed it toward the city, the change starts from the dairy product shop "Quesos Chela" and ends in La Espiga, Chorrera.

At approximately 10:00 am. a 50 traffic police units, six motorcycle patrols and two patrol vehicles will be in the streets placing traffic cones in case of a crash or collision for security measures.

The Chief said, at the moment, there is no exact number of how many vehicles have traveled inland, but the estimated amount is of about 52 000 vehicles. According to the chief, no significant accident has occurred.

Martínez recommended drivers to support traffic units during their return and if there are any doubts, look for an inspector and do not stop suddenly, because it can cause accidents.

He also asked the population to not drive recklessly and pass red lights and to not go over the speed limit. (Panama America)

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Fire In Bocas Del Toro Left 20 People Without Homes

Safety & SecurityThere were 20 affected people by the fire, including 13 minors, The fire occurred this morning in the village of Empalme in Bocas del Toro.

The affected people lived in four rented rooms and lost all their belongings. Thanks to the notice of one of the child who was using his computer a few minutes after midnight, was what prevented the death or injury of anybody there.

Francisco Camargo, one of the victims, said the child saw sparks of fire falling from the ceiling, making him react and tell everybody what was happening.

This morning officials from the Ministry of Housing arrived at the location. The victims were housed in the homes of friends and family, hoping for help. (Critica)

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$14 Million Towards Equipment For The Fire Department

Safety & SecurityBill 574, which would make it easier for the Fire Department of Panama to use about $14 million dollars from the National Trust Fund, was approved by the National Assemby in the second debate.

The bill, supported by the Deputies from both the opposition and government political parties, changes the Articles of Law 59 of 1996 and Law 10 of 2010. The first is the basic law regulating the Fire Department and the second defines how the money paid by insurance companies into this fund can be used.

With this fund trust, until now managed by the Fire Department, is intended to be used to acquire rolling stock, such as fire trucks and ambulances. It can also be used to fund uniforms and human resource training.

Benicio Robinson, of the PRD political party, said as a responsible party they support this project, because it will provide for the equipment and improvement of the Fire Department of Panama.

They expect an improved entity with the necessary equipment, allowing for improved performance when responding to an emergency, added Robinson.

Meanwhile, Sergio Galvez, the President of the Assembly, said the adoption of this law will give more autonomy and resources to the Fire Department, which is why they decided to hold this meeting yesterday.

He said these resources will be used to equip and strengthen the logistics of the organization across the country.

"If we decide to meet today, it is in response to the request of the fire department, because the idea is for the project to be approved in the third and final debate on Tuesday," said Galvez.

The opposition Deputy Jorge Alberto Rosas questioned the idea of calling the National Assembly into session yesterday, on Saturday, and the speed at which this project has been discussed.

For Rosas, it is not logical to discuss this project in such a hurry when there were other channels to expedite this process.

The opinion of the Firefighters

The assistant manager of the Fire Department, Rodrigo Baruco, said the amendment of this law pretends to allow and facilitate the use of the trust funds for the acquisition of equipment, ambulances, vehicles for the organization and strengthening human resources through training.

Baruco said it is essential to improve the processes and programs for the safety of people, and this is done through investing towards training their staff all across the country and acquiring new equipment.

"Our country is in development and this means the population is growing fast, there are more constructions, more buildings, so we must train ourselves even better and we must have the necessary mechanisms to deal with any emergency,” said the assistant manager.

Annually, 79 fire stations nationwide receive about 35 thousand emergency calls, of which over 40% are from the metropolitan area of the country. The officials from the institution believe this number will considerably grow in the next years, due to the accelerated growth of the population.

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Panamanian Firemen Receive Training in Pennsylvania and New Jersey (Panama Metro Safety and Security)

Safety & SecurityFiremen from the office of Operations of Extinguishing, Search and Rescue of the Distinguished Fire Brigade in the Republic of Panama are now in Philadelphia, United States, are attending training at the facilities of the Transportation Resources Associates company, relating to the Incident and Unified Command System, regarding the construction of the new Panama Metro subway system in Panama City.

As part of this training Sub Lieutenant Lester Burker and Sergeant II Cristian Toribio Vásquez have visited the Pennsylvania Transportation Corporation (PATCO) and the ladder unit of the Fire Department in Metro Station - Lindenwold.

Stand is for them to gain experience and knowledge for the successful handling of the subway system in emergency matters.

These officers have held meetings with the senior members of the Emergency Management and Intelligence System for the State of New Jersey, as well as training in the Emergency Operations Center (COE) in New Jersey, and their systems. (Critica)

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A House Burns Down In Cerro Viento

Safety & SecurityA house in Cerro Viento was almost entirely consumed by flames.

Firefighters attended the emergency which was reported for the house located on Calle 32 in Cerro Viento, village of Rufina Alfaro, district of San Miguelito.

Juan de Arco, a member of the Fire Department of Panama, said the fire spread into rooms of the house, including the dining room and kitchen. He explained the owners were attended by the 911 ambulance staff because they inhaled too much smoke, but their were no human casualties, but the family dog died.

"The Office of Safety of the firefighters will continue with investigations to determine the cause of this incident" Said Arco. (Critica)

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Fire On Calle 5ta Catedral in Casco Viejo

Safety & SecurityFiremen and officers assigned to the Institutional Protection Service (SPI) evacuated residents from Calle 5 in the area of the Catedral in Casco Viejo, after a fire was reported this morning.

Witnesses sent photos via Facebook and Twitter where you can see the flames coming out of one of the buildings.

The firemen have responded to the emergency, and apparently the situation is being controlled. (TVN)

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A Fatal Dip At Dawn - Man Drowns On Amador

Safety & SecurityA citizen of about 62 years old, died at dawn on Saturday, when he drowned in the waters of Amador.

It is unknown whether the victim had suffered a heart attack or other incident, which affected him and later caused him to drown.

It will fall to the authorities to investigate the causes of this incident, and the person who lost his life in the early hours of Saturday. (Critica)

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Two Construction Workers Die Buried In A Trench

Safety & SecurityTwo construction workers died yesterday afternoon, Wednesday, 10 April 2013, in the village of Las Mendozas in La Chorrera, when the walls of the trench where they were working collapsed and they were buried alive.

"At the time of the accident, the two men were working in a trench for the drainage system of the building project, La Estancia," reported TVN Channel 2.

The bodies of the victims were recovered by other construction workers and rescue personnel from the National Civil Protection System.

Personnel of the Public Ministry began investigations on the incident.

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Surveillance Will Be Strengthened Due To Past Fires In Cerro Patacón

Safety & SecurityYesterday two people were arrested because they were found to be in a prohibited area of the Cerro Patacón landfill, where in the past weeks, two fires have occurred, supposedly caused on purpose (arson).

Carlos Castaño, the manager of Urbalia SA, the company responsible for managing the Cerro Patacón facility, reported that the facts are being investigated, however as a first step, they will strengthen the surveillance, especially after the arrests.

Enrique Ho Fernández, the Director of the Authority of Urban Household and Cleanliness, confirmed that one of the detainees is a driver that works there; who was on vacation, the appropriate disciplinary sanctions will be applied. In addition, there was another man who was traveling in a black Ford Explorer vehicle, who apparently runs an illegal landfill facility.

The officer said the situation could be classified as a "sabotage", especially since both fires occurred in such short time. (Telemetro)

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Two People Have Been Identified As Possibly Responsible For Cerro Patacon Fires

Safety & SecurityTwo people were identified in investigations following the fires in the landfill at Cerro Patacón.

The Director of the AAUD Enrique Fernández Ho said yesterday, Monday, these people were found in a restricted area of the landfill.

One of them is a garbage truck driver who is on vacation.

The authorities will impose the appropriate disciplinary actions on this employee, according to the head of the AAUD.

The other person is an entrepreneur who has a clandestine dump in the sector of Guna Nega sector. "We don't know what they were doing there ... it is an area that is totally restricted," he said.

He added that these two people were turned over to the local Justice of the Peace (Corregidor) responsible for the area.

However, he did not rule out the possibility that the case will be turned over to a prosecutor for the facts to be more fully investigated.

Ho Fernandez said further that last Sunday was the second time in less than three weeks that someone started a fire at the Cerro Patacón garbage dump.

"I do not want to say that there are people who are doing harm on purpose, but I do not rule it out," he said.

Meanwhile, Carlos Manuel Castaño, the manager of Urbalia, SA, the company that manages the landfill, said the fire on Sunday was "caused" (arson).

Therefore, they will consider appropriate measures to strengthen surveillance, he added. (Prensa)

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100 Gallons Of Foam Used To Put Out Second Fire In Cerro Patacón

Safety & SecurityThere are strong suspicions that the second fire at the recycling section of Cerro Patacón landfill, was caused by someone, according to what several authorities have declared.

The incident began in the early morning hours of Sunday and was suppressed in the afternoon.

Roberto Henríquez, Minister of the Presidency, published on his twitter account that he and the authorities had strong suspicions that the incident was caused by a criminal hand, a situation that will be investigated. "It is strongly suspected that the fire in the tire disposal section in Cerro Patacón was intentional. Flames are already under control but there's still a lot of smoke," was the message posted by Henríquez.

According to early reports, the incident could also be caused by some scavengers, who are dedicated to the collection of cables.

To quell this fire, 100 gallons of foam were used, which was bought from the Texas Fire Department in the United States, to extinguish the first fire in Cerro Patacón. There is a distance of one kilometer between the areas where the fires were. (Telemetro)

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Firefighters And The AAUD Try To Put Out Another Fire In Cerro Patacón

Safety & SecurityAfter more than nine hours of there being an active fire in the area of tire disposal in the Cerro Patacón landfill, members of the Fire Department of Panama still try to suffocate it, is what the Authority Urban and Household (AAUD) reported.

The incident occurred at around 1:00 am, this is the second case that has occurred in the area of the landfill in less than a month.

The firefighters continue to work to extinguish the fire, since it also spread to other areas adjacent to the landfill.

According to residents from the sector, they noticed a large amount of smoke and huge flames coming from the area in the morning.

Personnel of the Fire Department of Panama and AAUD coordinate in the area to quell this incident.

On March 19th a fire started in the second stage of Cerro Patacón, which took over two weeks to control and required the advice of experts from the U.S. and Canada.

To smother the fire, they used the special foam, which arrived in the country from Texas, USA. (Prensa)

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Warehouse On Fire In Zona Libre

Safety & SecurityDuring the early hours this morning, Thursday, April 4th, there was a fire in a warehouse in the Colón Zona Libre, in the area of ​​Coco Solito.

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MIVIOT Will Subsidize Families Affected By Fire In Colón For 10 Months

Safety & SecurityThe Deputy Minister of Housing, Rogelio Javier Baruco and his team walked through the two mansions in 12172 and 12181, located on Calle 13 Amador Guerrero and Herrera, which were burned on Sunday March 31st in the province of Colón.

This incident left a toll of 64 affected families, which were attended by social workers of the institution until the late hours of the night.

Baruco said "this government does not forget Colón and that is why in this province there are several housing projects built, such as: Irving Saladino, Nueva Providencia, Praderas de Buena Vista.

He said what comes now, is to make social-economic evaluation of the families, to determine the status of each one and thus direct them to that program the institution may apply, so they can get a home in their own future in a stable and secure way.

At the moment, these families will be subsidized for 10 months, so they can live in a place temporarily while they look for a permanent solution and that way, they can be applied to programs implemented by the Ministry of Housing and Land Management (Miviot).

In both entities as the Government and the Mayor of Colón rely on food, while the Zona Libre of Colón is responsible for the needs of infants.

On the other hand in the province of Panama, the deputy director of Social Development, Asdrubal Ulloa and a team of social workers, met with six families who were affected by the fire on Saturday March 30th, at Calle Segunda Parque Lefevre, where the evaluation was performed and found to be subsidized for three months until they find a solution. (ESTRELLA)

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64 Families Left Homeless By Fire In Colon

Safety & SecurityAbout 64 families were left homeless by a fire that occurred at 6:00 pm Sunday, March 31st at Calle 13 and Avenida Manuel Amador Guerrero in the city of Colón.

Firefighters fought the chaos, yet they weren't able to do much because the whole building was in flames.

According to reports, the two-story building was condemned, but was inhabited by 64 families, some of Guna origin.

Some people spent the night in the place watching what little they could salvage, while the others slept in the home of their relatives.

According to TVN, an official from Zona Libre, allegedly offered to each of the owners of the affected apartments the sum of $1,300, money that the victims refused to receive.

Meanwhile, Telemetro reported that about 250 people consisted in the total of those 64 families.

They also reported that two people jumped from the first floor to save their belongings and firefighters were faced with low water pressure.

Today they expect to know the details of how this fire started leaving several families homeless. (Mi Diario)

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Victims Of The Fire In Colón Ask For Help

Safety & SecurityMore than 60 families were affected by the fire in an old house located on Calle 13 and Avenida Amador Guerrero, in Colón which happened yesterday, they spent the night outdoors and they hope that the Ministry of Housing and Land Management (Miviot) will help.

The Office of Security of the Fire Department will investigate what happened to determine what caused the fire, in which fortunately there were no injuries.

The authorities from the office of the Mayor of Colón will offer food to the victims for today, while the Panamanian Red Cross is receiving donations of dry food, water and clothing. (Dia A Dia)

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Ho Hopes To Meet With Residents Of Guna Nega To Discuss Cerro Patacón Landfill

Safety & SecurityThe administrator of the Authority of Urban and Household Cleanliness (AAUD), Enrique Ho, said possibly tomorrow he will meet with residents of the community of Guna Nega, and he will talk with them about the creation of stage three of the Cerro Patacón landfill.

Ho said he is waiting for the residents of this area who oppose the construction of this stage (because it's too close their homes), to create a committee to start dialog.

He said the company Urbalia S.A. will have to be responsible for a payment of $700,000 because the state had to purchase the special foam used to put out the fire. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: The total cost of putting out the fire might have been $700,000 but they only paid about $200,000 for the foam. Or, if they did pay $700,000 for the foam they got ripped off...

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"Twenty Areas of Cerro Patacón Still On Fire" - Zenón Návalo

Safety & SecurityAlthough the fire was controlled in the Cerro Patacón's garbage dump, there are still 20 areas which remain burning, said the general secretary of the Authority of Urban and Household Cleanliness (AAUD), Zenón Návalo.

Zenón said the company Urbalia S.A. is putting out these fires with support from the Fire Department of Panama and the supervision of the AAUD.

He said there's reason to believe the fire was arson, but the authorities are still investigating.

Responsibilities of the Company

Návalo told Noticias AM that Urbalia S.A. is responsible for the administration of Cerro Patacón and the AAUD is only supervising, so therefore they are going to review the contract, to determine if the company failed to comply with their responsibilities.

Other thing that the company has to do is install a medical waste incinerator. The construction of Stage 3 in Cerro Patacón is being held back at the moment because the people living near the site are opposed. (Panama America)

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Minsa Declares "Green Alert" For Easter

Safety & SecurityOn the occasion of the celebration of Holy Week, the Ministry of Health continue with the "green alert forecast" from 12 noon today, Wednesday, March 27th until 11:00 pm on Sunday, March 31st.

1, 994 food protection officials, water quality, health promotion, public health and vector control, ensure the cleanliness that the institution implement these five days, supported by 56 ambulances and 11 aquatic ambulances and activation of the "health 0" system, from 6:00 am to 8:00 pm, for the emergency evacuation of patients from inaccessible areas.

The national chief of SISED, Rogelio Muñoz said to address any health emergency during the Holy Week, they have conditioned 73 health facilities: 20 hospitals, 2 Policentros, 37 health centers, 7 sub-health, 4 health stands and 3 checkpoints and surveillance.

A press release from the company, said that health inspectors conducted operations in the food stalls and seafood, wholesale and retail, to verify its quality.

The director of the Metropolitan Health Region, Jorge Hassan, said that on the island of Taboga there will be a 24 hour care center, in Veracruz they will provide service from 7:00 am to 3:00 pm, and the Health Sub-Centre in Kuna Nega will be open until Sunday, March 31 from 7:00 am to 3:00 pm also.

For his part, Director of Health of San Miguelito, Algis Torres said the Health Center of San Isidro remain open 24 hours, the Health Center Torrijos Carter from 7:00 am to 11:00 pm and it will be available all days even if ambulance transport is required to transport patients in critical condition to St. Thomas Hospital del Niño or San Miguel Arcángel. (Panama America)

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ATTT Announces Security Operation For Easter

Safety & SecurityAbout 50 police units, including motorized patrols Transit Authority and Land Transport, will be located at points of control and surveillance to ensure the free movement of vehicles which run through the Vía Panamericana during Easter.

According to the communication of the entity, they will start operating from 5:00 am on Thursday March 28th until 8:00 pm on Sunday 31st in order to prevent accidents and violations of law.

They indicate that if necessary, they will invest a third lane from the Espiga, Chorrera to Quesos Chela in Capira, as demanded for cars, the measure can be implemented when this celebration starts (Holy Thursday) and then for Sunday when many people return to the capital city.

While in the capital city they will provide these service units together with units of the National Police (DOT) and they will work in coordination with Sinaproc, Red Cross and the Fire Department. (Panama America)

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Waste Law Will Be Presented Next Week At The Cabinet Council

Safety & SecurityThe health minister, Javier Diaz, said the crisis created by the fire at Cerro Patacón garbage dump will allow for the strengthening of the law on waste management in Panama, which will be presented next week to the Cabinet Council.

Diaz said in the early edition of Telemetro Reporta, that the document was written with more than three months of analysis on the operation of landfills and cleanliness across the country.

Diaz said the toxicity levels in the environment have returned to normal.

This is according to the analysis carried out in conjunction with specialists from the University of Panama.

Diaz added that with the confinement of the fire, they have been able to reduce the emission of smoke in the air, however he clarified that no one can say that the fire is 100% controlled.

He also said it still remains to be seen whether there is underground fire, but what they have seen together with the experts "is that it remains very much under control."

That's why Diaz says, they need to continue pouring the special foam on the surface.

He said they are doing everything that has been recommended by the experts so that the fire will be completely extinguished. (Panama America)

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Martinelli Asked The Mayor To Revalue The Contract Of The Company Responsible For The Landfill

Safety & Security"Whoever did this was someone with a very Machiavellian mind," said President Ricardo Martinelli, today, Tuesday March 26th, referring to the fire that was generated in the Cerro Patacón, which was considered intentional.

The Panamanian leader said the company in charge of the landfill "has not been seen" nor have they made a statement, therefore he cataloged them as "irresponsible" and asked the Mayor of Panama City to make a reassessment of their contract.

Martinelli said after the fire, the state had to go out and deal with what happened because the company "should have shown their face."

"Whoever did this are not opposing the government, but rather the country, because this is a dirty trick. Fortunately, it is being controlled," said Martinelli when he arrived at Cerro Patacón where he will evaluate the progress being made to put out the fire at the garbage dump.

Meanwhile, Martinelli announced that the presidential airplane will be used to bring experts from California to advise Panamanian authorities on this fire.

The company responds

Meanwhile, the general manager of the company Urbalia, Carlos Castaño, head of the Cerro Patacón landfill, said they are willing to perform a review of the contract, just as President Ricardo Martinelli had warned.

Castaño told Telemetro Reporta that at all times they have supported the authorities, because the company itself has been present at the scene.

He added that within 12 hours they reopened phase I of the landfill in order to begin receiving garbage, and in this way to help prevent a health emergency. (Panama America)

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Panama Using Chemguard's "First Class" - Class A Foam Concentrate To Fight Cerro Patacon Garbage Dump Fire

Safety & Security By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - The Chemguard company based out of Mansfield, Texas in the United States is now playing a crucial role in fighting the garbage dump fire that has been burning at Cerro Patacon since last Tuesday, 19 March 2013 in Panama.

On Saturday the company shipped a total of 10,935 gallons of two of their products - their "First Class" foam concentrate, and their "Class-A Plus" foam concentrate, for use in Panama.

Both of these products basically improve the effectiveness and efficiency of water when applied to Class A fuels. Most fuels are Class A - things such as paper, wood, plastics - most of the stuff that's contained in a huge pile of garbage like at Cerro Patacon. Class B fuels are flammable liquids like an oil fire, and Class C fires are electrical in nature. According to their website, "Chemguard First Class is a non-corrosive, non-toxic, biodegradable Class A foam concentrate. When mixed with water in the correct proportion, it changes the properties of water. It reduces the surface tension of the water, and produces foam, which allows the water to cling to vertical or horizontal surfaces without run off. This allows the water to absorb more heat and provides greater penetration into Class A fuels."

These types of materials were originally created to help in the fight against forest fires. When you see those tanker airplanes making drops on burning hillsides, many times they contain these same agents which basically help the efficiency and efficacy of water to smother flames in Class A fires. The strategy adopted by the Panamanian fire department is to cover all 30+ acres of the fire with a thick cap of dirt, and now they are also spraying that dirt with these Class A foam products from Chemguard.

This afternoon the Director of the Authority of Urban and Household Cleanliness Enrique Ho said the firemen who are working to combat the fire at Cerro Patacon have already used approximately 2,000 gallons of the foam concentrate they received on Saturday. At that rate they will chew through their 10,000 gallon supply in about five days, and I doubt what they have on hand right now will be enough to completely extinguish this fire. The first shipment was sent by air and the order was basically limited by how much could fit in the airplane. The Panamanian firemen on the ground will be using the "First Class" and "Class A Plus" products to get a feel for them, and they will probably be needing more. I expect the Chemguard company in Texas will be receiving another order in the coming days.

So the obvious "burning" question is - how much does this stuff cost? For obvious reasons the people at Chemguard would not discuss the details of the purchase order made by the Panamanian government, however in today's Google world it took less than ten seconds to find a site adverting these same products at about $18.95 per gallon - which puts the retail purchase price at about $207,218 give or take. Knock off an estimated 15% for a bulk order so that might take it down to about $175,000 or so - then add the cost of flying it down on a charter cargo plane. But hey - whatever. There's a very good chance this fire was caused by arson and the government simply has to get it under control as soon as possible. Then add the cost of manpower, equipment, fuel - and I would not be surprised if this fire is costing the government about $1 million per day to fight - easy.

Focus On Air Quality - The white smoke being produced by the fire at the Cerro Patacon garbage dump is relatively toxic, because it is the product of incomplete combustion. When there's a hotter fire, the burning materials are consumed more, and the hot, black angry looking smoke produced by a hotter burning fire is actually less toxic than the white cloud that's been hanging over Panama City every morning for the past six days. This cloud of toxic smoke has the most tangible impact on the daily lives of the city's residents, so it makes sense that the presence, content, and potential impact of this cloud has been dominating the conversation since the fire started.

Well anyway, for what it's worth, if you're into this sort of stuff you can see the technical specifications for the products being used on the Chemguard website. Hopefully the Panamanian authorities will get this fire under control, and then maybe this nagging cough I've developed recently will go away...

Copyright 2013 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Don't forget to follow Panama Guide on Twitter. Salud.

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2,000 Gallons Of Foam Sprayed on Cerro Patacon Fire

Safety & SecurityThe Secretary General of the Authority for Urban and Household Cleanliness (AAUD), Zenon Navalo, reported that, so far, firemen have sprayed 2,000 gallons of industrial foam on the garbage dumb fire at Cerro Patacón.

Navalo said the spray foam has made significant progress in fighting the fire that broke out seven days ago in the landfill.

"Now it's not a mountain on fire, there are only small areas where flames can be seen," he said.

Toxicity levels are low: MOH

Meanwhile, the Health Minister Javier Diaz said on Monday the levels of toxicity of the smoke from the Cerro Patacón garbage dump, product of fire that began last week, have dropped.

Diaz explained the number of toxic particles that exist in the environment are within levels "near normal", when these types of fires occur.

The minister added that the situation today is different, taking into account the levels of toxicity that have been detected since Tuesday 19 March, when the fire started.

Diaz said his thesis is based on the analysis made by the 41 institutions that are participating in the National Emergency Operations Center.

This analysis ruled out the need of an evacuation due to the levels of pollution in the air, he said.

"The 41 health institutions have not recommended [the evacuation]. This decision has been made in a transparent manner, and the recommendations to be followed are those that have already been taken," he said on Telemetro Reports.

However, Diaz suggested that if in the schools that are close to the landfill, where classes resumed on Monday, if there is a strong level of smoke then the students should be sent home.

At the same time he said they would send experts to these schools to take measurements of the levels of toxic smoke concentrated there. (Prensa)

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Cerro Patacon Investigation Will Begin Once Fire Is Controlled

Safety & SecurityThe investigation to determine whether or not the fire and Cerro Patacón was arson will begin once the fire is under control.

According to the director of the Fire Department of Panama (CBP), Paul Tuñón, the area must be secure before the investigation can begin in order to avoid accidents.

Official Prosecutor's Investigation - Given the concern about possible contamination by toxic gases, the Auxiliary Prosecutor opened an official investigation last Wednesday.

Marcelino Aguilar, the Auxiliary Prosecutor, said investigators from his office visited the scene of the fire, but due to the situation, for the moment they will simply request information from the directors of the Fire Department, the Authority of Urban and Household Cleanliness, the University of Panama, and the Ministry of Health.

No Emergency Declared - The interdisciplinary team ruled out declaring a state of emergency because of the fire at Cerro Patacón that since Tuesday has created a toxic layer of smoke in some areas of San Miguelito and the capital city.

César Lange, director of Rescue of the National Civil Protection System, explained that to declare a state of emergency there must be a considerable number of people affected, as established by the security protocols.

Contrary to what Lange says, the environmentalist said Alida Spadafora said the contamination being expelled into the atmosphere by the emission of toxic smoke warrants declaring an emergency.

Meanwhile, yesterday the Minister of Health, Javier Diaz, said the measure of the air quality dropped to 25 compared to the previous 48 hours, which is within the ranges allowed by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). (Siglo)

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Two Drowned in Chiriqui River

Safety & SecurityWhat began as an afternoon of fishing for two cousins​​ turned into a family tragedy for the relatives of Abel Martínez, 32, and Eugenio González 22, who lost their lives in the waters of the Chiriqui River in the community of La Esperanza, Gualaca district in the province of Chiriqui.

The bodies were located after an extensive search led by the district representative of Gualaca, Hector Quiroz in the company of relatives and community residents, around 10:00 pm yesterday, after the incident was reported at about 6:00 pm.

"We residents and family members of the boys found the bodies, because the Sinaproc staff said that because of the time, they could not do the search," said Quiroz.

Sinaproc responds - Meanwhile Abelardo Serrano, the regional director of Sinaproc, said his staff went to the place and even dove into the water, but because of the time and because it was a mountainous area, they had to abandon the search.

"International standards state that in such case, rescues or searches are not to be performed because of the hour, so therefore after 6:00 pm we suspended this type of activity in order to not put the safety of the rescuers in jeopardy," said Serrano.

It was learned that the youths were from the community of Potrerillos Arriba, in the district of Dolega. (Critica)

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Cerro Patacon - 30 Acres Of Garbage On Fire

Safety & SecurityBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - The Cerro Patacon garbage dump in Panama City caught fire on Tuesday, 19 March 2013, and all this week I've been hearing differing reports on the size of the dump, so I decided to measure it myself.

Using an image from Google Earth (below) you can see that the active "phase II" of the dump which was being used to receive waste from the residents of Panama City measures 500 meters long by 250 meters wide. This translates to 125,000 square meters. There are 10,000 square meters in one hectare so that's 12.5 hectares, or 30.8 acres. This is the size of the area that's on fire.

Between last night and this morning the Panamanian government officials are now saying they have ordered 100,000 gallons of foam which they intend to use to fight the fire. I have a few questions which I am now working to answer. Is that enough material to extinguish this fire? Are they using Class A or Class B foam? How long will it take to get here? What's the mix ratio - meaning - how much water do you need to mix with the 100,000 gallons of foam? Because if it's a 10:1 ratio (for example) then that means the fire department will have to truck a million gallons of water, which is beyond their capabilities. You see where I'm going with this stuff...

Copyright 2013 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Don't forget to follow Panama Guide on Twitter. Salud.

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Now Using Foam On The Cerro Patacón Garbage Dump Fire

Safety & SecurityThe administrator of the Authority of Urban and Household Cleanliness (AAUD), Enrique Ho, said via his Twitter account @ho_fernandez, that they have been conducting tests with the fire department to apply foam to the top of Cerro Patacón.

"We are doing testing with the fire department to spray foam on the top of Patacón," said the official via his account.

In another tweet, Ho said they have calibrated and determined the proper mixture for the foam dispensing machine and he was leaving with firefighters heading to the summit of the Cerro Patacon landfill. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: The Panamanian authorities have consulted with a company from Texas, and they have ordered 100,000 gallons of this foam which they expect to use in their efforts to extinguish the fire at the Cerro Patacon garbage dump, which has been burning since Tuesday, 19 March 2013. Right now they only have 400 gallons on hand which is not nearly enough to have any impact, so this is really just equipment testing.

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Garbage Dump Fire Now Causing Health Problems

Safety & SecurityThe fire at the Cerro Patacón garbage dump, which started in the afternoon of Tuesday, is far from being extinguished, and is still burning.

Yesterday, after 7:00 pm, the flames still persist in the western area of the landfill, despite the hard work on Wednesday by a group of 300 people who have been dumping dirt and sand trying to put out the fire, which has already affected 15 hectares.

The first people who have been affected by the emission of smoke were reported yesterday. There were two children aged 7 and 8 years old who live in La Paz, both were taken to hospital.

To avoid further problems, officials from the office of Urban and Household Cleanliness distributed masks among the residents and those who are working in the area to prevent aspiration of harmful particles.

Protest in La Paz -

The fire in Cerro Patacón already caused problems in the collection of garbage from the capital district of San Miguelito.

To mitigate the crisis, the authorities of the AAUD prepared a new area where they can dump garbage in La Paz, Guna Nega.

In response, dozens of residents closed the road in protest because they want the garbage to be taken somewhere else.

Mariela Rodriguez, who lives in the sector, said the landfill will be in front of their homes, affecting them with foul odors, and that the smoke will cause headaches, itching and allergies.

Enrique Ho, AAUD administrator, said stage 1 was enabled to deposit trash.

A report from the University of Panama found that samples taken are not radioactive.

The Panamanian Association of Business Executives request a reassessment of the management and control of the landfill, to reduce pollution, the environmental and health risks. (Siglo)

Editor's Comment: Wow. Glad to see there was no plutonium in Cerro Patacon. If the garbage was not radioactive, then the smoke won't be either. Sheesh...

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Panama Orders 100,000 Gallons Of Foam From US To Fight Dump Fire

Safety & SecurityThe director of the Authority of Urban and Household Cleanliness, Enrique Ho, said today they acquired 400 gallons of foam in Panama, and they have ordered more than one hundred thousand gallons of a special foam and specialized equipment recommended by the Fire Department of Texas, in the United States, to fight the fire at the Cerro Patacón garbage dump.

Ho called the people who are working to extinguish the fire national heroes.

The access road to the Cerro Patacón landfill was closed to the public, and even the media center was relocated for safety reasons.

The latest results of tests of air samples taken, released by the Sinaproc, indicated 20.9% oxygen and 1% to 2% carbon dioxide. (TVN)

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