Nfld. & Labrador

Garbage incinerators to get extension, minister says

The Newfoundland and Labrador government has offered to let communities continue burning garbage in teepee incinerators, after many towns said they couldn't possibly reach the December deadline to end their use.

The Newfoundland and Labrador government has offered to let communities continue burning garbage in teepee incinerators, after many towns said they couldn't possibly reach the December deadline to end their use.

"The December 31 deadline is no longer realistic," Graham Letto, president of Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador said. "We don't even have a strategy for Labrador yet."

The provincial government was first to sign a national ban on the polluting low-tech burners in 2004, promising to phase them out by 2008.

Letto, also the mayor of Labrador City, said his municipality is one of many finding it hard to switch from burning garbage to using a landfill.

Because of the difficulties, Letto said the process shouldn't be rushed to meet the December deadline.

"We all know what happened to Fogo Island by not having a proper transition plan in place," Letto said. "It will only lead to other problems like infestation of rats, and nobody wants that in their community."

Garbage piled up in July at a dump near Stag Harbour, a small village on Fogo Island off Newfoundland's northeast coast, after the landfill became full and municipal officials were unable to burn the garbage. A rat infestation in Stag Harbour that tormented residents for months was blamed on the overflowing garbage dump.

Minister of Municipal Affairs Dave Denine said his department doesn't want any more situations such as the rodent problems, so regions using the teepee incinerators will be offered a limited extension.

"It's not a carte blanche extension," he said. "They will have to say 'OK, we will in the next number of years be taking down the teepee incinerator and and we'll be transporting our garbage to a certain location.' So they have to identify possibilities and they are not left alone on this.

"We have people in the department and there are people in waste management authorities across the province that can help out with those issues."

Denine said any extensions will be looked at on a case-by-case basis.