Where there’s smoke, there’s fire

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY BUR­TON K. JANES

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.

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