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Fires at dumpsites a health concern, say residents

Multiple fires have broken out at the Rooihuiskraal and Kruger Avenue refuse sites as growing piles of waste top residents’ walls.

Mountains of illegally dumped waste pose a health and safety risk, said residents as Centurion battled the effects of weeks without waste collection.

This as piles of waste at the Rooihuiskraal and Kruger Avenue garden refuse sites caught fire in several incidents since mid-August.

Waste has not been collected in some areas of Centurion since the illegal strike by municipal employees began almost seven weeks ago.

The city has attempted to implement waste collection catch-up plans, however, these were hampered as some garbage trucks were set alight by strikers.

The trash piled high as waste continues to be dumped illegally. Image provided

Residents are now concerned that the smouldering piles of trash were posing a health risk due to the potentially toxic smoke produced.

“The smoke from the fires has soaked into my curtains and on the Friday morning of that big fire I woke up because I could hardly breathe because of the smog,” said Jocelyn Reida, a resident near the Rooihuiskraal site.

“The first fire was on August 19, and the second was last Thursday, which was the worst fire. Last night I reported another small fire that broke out again and I was just informed of another that started,” she said on Monday.

“I simply don’t feel safe, even though I live in an apartment, there are random people stopping close by to dump and also a lot of waste recyclers hanging around the area.

“At night I can hear cars stopping to dump, even when the dump was on fire. The massive amounts of trash lying around also pose major health risks and is also really unsightly.”

She said the illegally dumped waste was piling as high as the wall of the estate.

On Monday night, September 4, firefighters were once again called to the Rooihuiskraal site to extinguish the flames.

Locals reported that the heaps of trash had also brought flies to their homes.

Ward 69 councillor Cindy Billson said that she worried that Monday night’s fire would not be the last.

“This is going to be consistent until we are in the position to remove all the waste.”

Councillors in the region were trying to manage the problem by calling on residents not to illegally dump their waste.

“It’s very bad with so much smoke,” Billson told Rekord, adding that she was worried about the substation nearby.

Billson said that residents and teams had been working at both the Rooihuiskraal and Kruger Avenue sites since Saturday to clear out some of the litter.

She said they were clearing the roads to the Department of Roads and water depot that were blocked from Kruger Avenue.

Billson said that she was shocked to see residents and unscrupulous garden service companies dumping while others were busy cleaning up the area.

According to the National Environmental Management: Waste Act 59 of 2008, dumping waste in public spaces could result in a maximum period of imprisonment of three years or a R60 000 fine, or both, as determined by a court.

Ward 79 councillor Johan van Buuren said that the clean-up projects that started on Saturday were slowly resulting in improvement.

He said that they were constrained by the amount of garbage trucks available.

Van Buuren said residents were concerned about the smoke and fumes from the burning sites.

“This is supposed to be a garden refuse site, but due to the strike, people have been dumping regular waste. We don’t know what has been dumped and that is a concern,” he added.

The trash pile topped the boundary wall of a resident’s property. Image provided
Residents worry that the smoke and fumes from the burning trash poses a health risk.

Both dumpsites remained closed.

MMC Peter Sutton said that he was shocked by people dumping.

“I really do not understand how sensible people feel it’s okay to dump on the doorstep of another resident or add refuse to to a smouldering fire.”

He said that the health problems, such as asthma and sinusitis, as well as the fly infestation the residents were experiencing were overbearing.

“Ask yourself, how would you feel if this took place in front of your home?”

He said that residents could make use of the private commercial landfill site at Mooiplaats.

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