Residents see red over dumping site fires

A fire at the dumping site in the northern part of Bloemfontein had residents in a panic.

Residents in Bloemfontein’s northern suburbs are furious about claims by the Mangaung Metro Municipality (MMM) that the smoke caused by fires that erupted at the northern dumping site this week, doesn’t pose a health risk.

Bloemfontein Courant reported on the fires yesterday after the areas around the dumping site were engulfed by smoke early yesterday morning.

The community members living in the north are however furious about the fires and the health hazards that it imposes on the residents.

Henry Warnick said, “We are busy going crazy with this, and I ask you what are we to do? This is so unacceptable. We cannot even invite people over here, because it is humiliating and we don’t want to infect other people as well.”

Another resident, Johann Sieberhagen, says that his wife has asthma and that their baby is coughing severely due to the smoke that they are inhaling.

Qondile Khedama, spokesperson for the MMM,  explained the situation in a statement released to the media last night. “As the city, we are suspecting that part of the fires were caused by either burning of waste by informal reclaimers who want to retrieve recyclable material or warm themselves in severe weather; or by hot ashes that have been disposed in bins then transported to the landfills by our trucks or private contractors.

“In most instances, if these hot ashes are not detected in time, they have a potential to cause fires to spread because of methane that is generated underground, and this makes it difficult to control the fire since it is generated underneath the surface. These fires can only be suppressed by sand.

“As the city, we would like to assure the community living around the Northern part of the city that the smoke is non-toxic and does not pose health hazards since we are currently experiencing strong winds.”

Khedema says the MMM is doing everything in its power to find a solution for the problems at the dumping site.

“Our waste management sub-directorate has been working tirelessly with other line departments in ensuring that fires are put under control. Another area that we are looking into is ensuring that we repair the fence around the landfill site so that we deter the uncontrolled access, especially by informal waste reclaimers,” Khedama concluded. – Jeretha Oosthuizen