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