Five dark days for Northam
Northam – On Tuesday 10 September at about 15:00, a landfill site in Northam caught fire. For five days the community of Northam had to endure an awful smell and choking smoke that filled every nook and cranny.
Northam currently has two dumping sites. The legal dumping site, located just a bit further down the Brits road, is still closed. As the only alternative, community members have been using an illegal site to dump their garbage – the one that caught fire – much closer to town.
After having to endure the smoke for two days, a meeting was called by Northam Rate Payers’ Association (NRPA) and Thabazimbi Rate Payers’ Association (TRPA) on Thursday 12 September, to help fund a plan of action. This meeting was also attended by Democratic Alliance (DA) member of parliament, Desire van der Walt who flew in from Cape Town.
They devised a strategy to solve the emergency.
On Friday 13 September, Thabazimbi Crises Control (TCC) attempted to quench the flames with foam but it kept smouldering under the piles.
Northam Platinum mine brought in bulldozers on 14 September to push the smouldering garbage into the hole. The Thabazimbi Local Municipality (TLM) mayor John Fisher and municipal officials visited the site and brought with them more manpower to control and clear the landfill site.
NRPA chairperson David Gouveia filed a complaint with the Green Scorpions, Fauna and Flora, as to the health risk imposed on the community. Children at Laerskool Northam, which is situated right next to the landfill had to wear dust masks as the smoke caused several respitory problems.
In an interview with Platinum Bushvelder, Laerskool Northam secretary Lizette du Toit said: “The learners are busy with exams and we had quite a few cases where they could not attend because they were too ill.”
Arrangements have been made to fence the landfill and on 16 September TLM commenced the project and started to erect a fence.
The fence will ensure that you have to drive into the dumpsite and dump your garbage in the hole, rather than merely next to the road.