Where there’s smoke, there’s fire
Residents of Heart’s Delight-Islington are voicing concerns about a fire at their local landfill. Some say the illegal fires as a health hazard, and are a threat to the community.
Residents of Heart’s Delight-Islington continue to express health and safety concerns about an illegal fire in the town landfill late in August.
“The clouds and clouds of black smoke coming out of the dump was unbelievable,” said Linda Sooley, a resident of Heart’s Delight.
The site is less than a kilometre from the northeast side of the town.
Though burning garbage at the dump has been illegal since 2008, there have been several fires through the years.
Sooley informed municipal officials about the thick smoke floating in over her balcony last month. “I was breathing it,” she said. “I couldn’t hang my clothes out. That’s how serious it was.”
In response to questioning by Sooley, a town official downplayed the fire, indicating that only mattresses and similar debris were burning. The stock answer Sooley receives from the municipality is that nobody knows who’s starting the fires.
Sooley also expressed her concerns to Charlene Johnson, Minister of Environment and Conservation.
In an interview with NTV News soon after the latest fire started, Mayor Denzil Sheppard indicated he and his council were “ very concerned over this because of the amount of toxic fumes spewing from the area.”
Trinity Conception District RCMP confirmed for The Compass last week that a fullscale investigation was launched into the incident, to determine who set the community dump ablaze.
“ We spoke to a person of interest over in the area, but that’s as far as it went,” said Sgt. Rick Budden. That investigation is now complete. “ We still don’t know what the cause (of the fire) was,” Sgt. Budden added. “Our investigation is pretty well concluded at this point.”
Which is one of several matters that greatly bother Sooley.
She fails to understand why the investigation ended so quickly. “I think that, as residents of the community, we should be more informed as to the outcome of the investigation,” she said.
She wonders why the fires have always been started on a Monday. That’s soon after the garbage is picked up.
She also wonders why the fire department has never been called in right away.
She’s concerned about the “ harmful chemicals and black smoke coming out of a dump like that,” causing her to mull over “all the cancer in the area. I don’t think we really know what’s burning there all the time.”
Meanwhile, Sooley is quick to point out she has no issues with the town council. “I think our councillors are doing a tremendous job of taking care of our town,” she commented.
“ To me, the dump situation is too serious of a matter to just have nothing else done about it,” she added. “ It’s been an ongoing thing.” Indeed, the most recent fire was still smouldering as late as Tuesday of last week.
If provincial regulations materialize, Sooley’s concerns will take care of themselves. The town’s dump is scheduled to close at the end of this year.
“ We are very concerned whenever situations arise that can not only potentially have an adverse effect on our environment, but also compromise public safety,” Johnson said.
“An important component of achieving our goals is not only to reduce the amount of waste going into our landfalls, but also to reduce the number of the approximately 175 landfall sites that are currently dispersed throughout Newfoundland and Labrador.
“ We will continue to engage communities and work cooperatively toward a regional approach to help us facilitate landfill closures and reach our waste management objectives.”
An illegal fire in the Heart’s Delight-Islington landfill in August continues to raise health and safety concerns.