April 14th 2009
Green waste arson burns $15,000
Last week Magnetic Times reported on the spectacular fire at the Picnic Bay Green Waste Dump on the night of Sunday April 5. What we have now confirmed is that the remaining pile of unburnt waste, saved from the flames by Magnetic's excellent fire brigade on the Sunday, went up in flames the following (Monday) night.
Magnetic Island Police Constable Ben Costello told Magnetic Times that the fire was restarted at around 6pm on the Monday. Constable Costello believed that there was no evidence of an accelerant being used but was keen that any locals who may have witnessed any unusual activity or saw anything suspicious in the area contact the police.
The scene on Sunday April 5
While some might see the fire as a little more than a colourful spectacle the new contractor for the Green Waste Dump, Mr Patrick Bolger, was less impressed. Having just purchased a $150,000.00 wood chipper/mulcher machine which was less than 10 metres from the blaze on the night of the fire he had lost about six months or $15,000 worth of mulchable waste the night before his chipper was to start.
It now seems most likely this was a deliberate act of arson and moreover an incredible waste or an extremely useful resource.
Since the fire it has been suggested that the former contractor, McCarhill Earthmoving and Supplies had had exactly the same situation occur to them the night before they began operations in 1998. The rumour was scotched however when we contacted Mr Terry McCahill who clarified that his firm had had fires at the dump and that one was lit the day before they were planning to bring over a chipper but not the day they were to begin operating.
“It's sad to see it all up in smoke – all those gases.” said Mr Bolger.
Patrick Bolger and his Manager Graham Bennetts are, not now, simply in the business of providing the Island with useful garden mulch but are developing the process so that the final result will be a nutritious and valuable seed-free garden compost that has broken down the wood content which had previously attracted termites.
They have also installed an industrial scale worm farm to process organic waste from Island restaurants producing high grade organic fertiliser in the form of worm castings.
Graham Bennetts and Patrick
Bolger sitting on the chipper
Patrick Bolger told Magnetic Times, “If I can make good mulch and compost I think that is good for the Island. Then it doesn't have to come from town."
The fire had also revealed another constant danger to the operation: steel reinforcing rods unthinkingly left amidst the “green” waste. Steel can severely damage the 460hp machine if fed in with timber. Subsequently, all green waste dumping has to be supervised for dangerous contaminants. But for now, “We'll go through what's left, screen it, and remove the top soil.” says Patrick Bolger, adding, “Life's too short to be worried about it.”
Anybody with any information which they think could help is urged to contact the Magnetic Island Police on 4778 5270 or Crimestoppers on 1800 333 000.
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