Neigh­bour clears the air

South Waikato News - - NEWS - By PET­RICE TAR­RANT

Burn­ing wet wood is hope­fully a thing of the past for Lana Ahomiro now she knows it could cost her neigh­bour an early grave.

De­spite vis­its and letters from South Waikato District Coun­cil, the Mel­rose St res­i­dent said she had no idea her fam­ily’s ‘‘naughty’’ habit was con­tribut­ing to Thomas Demp­ster’s de­te­ri­o­rat­ing health con­di­tion.

Demp­ster, a re­tired mill worker of 44 years, has been hooked up to an oxy­gen ma­chine for the past three months.

With as­bestos in his lungs and other health con­di­tions, Demp­ster re­lies on clean air in his home.

He said the burn­ing of wet wood just two houses across has ‘‘un­doubt­edly’’ con­trib­uted to the ex­po­nen­tial rate at which his health has de­clined.

‘‘Some days I could hardly see out my win­dows with all the smoke com­ing over. It was that bad the other day that we had the back door shut and you could still smell it.’’

And when the poi­sonous fumes linger across, breath­ing be­comes painful, he said.

‘‘It’s like if you had cot­ton wool stuffed in your mouth and tried to breathe through it.’’

Demp­ster, who is un­able to ven­ture out­side, con­tacted the coun­cil and com­plained about his neigh­bour.

South Waikato District Coun­cil com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager Kerry Fabrie said coun­cil staff vis­ited the property with an in­for­ma­tion pack de­tail­ing avail­able schemes and ed­u­ca­tion on how to burn bet­ter.

‘‘Staff have asked the oc­cu­pier to stop damp­en­ing down the fire and pointed out the in­ad­e­quate wood stor­age on site.’’

She said un­til a by­law is brought in, the coun­cil has no author­ity to ‘‘come down with a firmer hand’’.

Ahomiro, who works most days, said she never knew their burn­ing was af­fect­ing Demp­ster in such a way.

‘‘If I’d known I would have made changes. We don’t want to put his health at risk.’’

She said ‘‘the ma­jor­ity’’ of what they burn is dry.

But old habits die hard, she said.

‘‘For years people have been able to burn how­ever they want to.’’

She said she knows a lot of people would be in the same po­si­tion as her. And she couldn’t be more right. This win­ter alone the Toko­roa air shed has had nine ex­ceedances of pm10 com­pared to the 10 in to­tal for the whole of 2013’s win­ter.

Fabrie said the coun­cil has shelved the idea of in­tro­duc­ing a by­law to con­trol people’s be­hav­iour, opt­ing to make it eas­ier for people to sign up to clean air schemes in­stead.

From July 1, 2015, on­wards a People in­ter­ested in the study of a district-wide trans­port sys­tem can at­tend at meet­ing at the coun­cil cham­bers on July 16. South Waikato District Coun­cil has al­lo­cated $200,000 to a scop­ing project to de­fine what is needed in the way of trans­port. A $230,000 Ti­rau town­ship to do­main walk­way is still sub­ject to Ki­wiRail ap­prov­ing the rail pedes­trian cross­ing. The project got Eco­nomic and Com­mu­nity De­vel­op­ment fund­ing in June. It in­volves the cross­ing and a bridge over Oraka Stream. Fund­ing cri­te­ria meant there would be no on-go­ing costs of the project to the coun­cil and ratepay­ers. The Ti­rau Com­mu­nity Board in­di­cated it had lo­cal busi­ness and res­i­dent sup­port and, if re­quired, track re­place­ment and as­so­ci­ated im­prove­ments. New Zealand Post re­leased its lat­est land­marks stamps and Ti­rau’s sheep is still among them. There were 18 land­marks printed on in­di­vid­ual stamps in­clud­ing the Ohakune car­rot, Otoro­hanga’s kiwi and Paeroa’s L& P bot­tle.

Photo: PET­RICE TAR­RANT

Bad air: Thomas Demp­ster will be a lot bet­ter off now smoke won’t be bil­low­ing over from his neigh­bour’s chim­ney.

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