Smoke from disintegrator causes concerns

Last week a group of concerned community members brought their concerns to the Six Nations Landfill Site, which is where the Kearns disintegrator is located. Still in its trial run and operated by the Kearns Waste Sciences Group from Nova Scotia, some of those living near the landfill site are complaining of black smoke and the smell of burned garbage. The group asked operator John Kearns to shut down his disintegrator but he declined to do so, and they left peacefully.

The group arrived at the landfill after they were approached by community members who complained of smoke coming from the disintegrator and the smell of burned garbage lingering in the air. The other concern was the quality of the air surrounding the disintegrator and whether or not it posed a health risk to those who live near the disintegrator.

The disintegrator is in its trial run and Elected Council has not yet closed the deal with Kearns. The current machine that Kearns is using is old and is having technical issues. If Council signs the deal, it will buy a brand new machine. A short video was circulating on social media last week of a member of the Recycling business also operating at the Landfill Site videotaping smoldering garbage at the disintegrator site. What wasn’t mentioned in the video was that the pile of cans and other items is what is left in the machine when it cools down below optimum temperature during shutdowns. The new unit that Council will purchase will come with two burners so when one has to be shut down, the other fires up and this kind of unburned waste should happen less.

Derek Sandy, who led the small group to the dump last week, told the Two Row Times that he went to Kearns because a friend of his lives near the unit and told him that he could smell the garbage burning. Sandy said that they told him that they have seen black clouds of smoke over the machine and are concerned as to why the unit, which claims to be emissions free, is producing the smoke.

Kearns told the group that in order for his disintegrator to work efficiently, it has to be heated to a temperature of at least 2,200 degrees. To get it up to that temperature, he has to burn wood or some other flammable material until the temperature reaches its ideal range and during that time, there would be some sort of emissions coming from it.

According to Kearns’ website, “The system is designed to generate heat from waste material introduced for disintegration. Volatile gases created in the disintegration process are processed in a scientific manner producing a vast amount of heat. A normal by-product of the fire is smoke and the Kearns Disintegration System simply harnesses the fuel value from the resultant smoke and incorporates it as a fuel source. This engineering design allows the Kearns Disintegration System to obtain and maintain its extremely high operating temperatures.”

The Two Row Times spoke with Six Nations Environmental Technician, Clynt King about whether or not emissions pose a danger to those close to the disintegrator, such as workers or those who live close to the landfill site. Asked whether he has been asked to come and assess the air quality around the disintegrator, King explained he has not. “Not in this case, I have not been involved at all,” stated King who explained his job is too general to perform something specific as testing air quality at a particular area. “I don’t have the technology or the experience to test air quality,” said King.

The Two Row Times also spoke with Elected Chief Ava Hill, who stated that right now, the disintegrator is just a demonstration. It is a project performed by Kearns who is trying to prove to Elected Council that his invention works. “We have to do something with the garbage back there,” stated Hill. “We can’t just keep burying it. Another option is to ship our garbage off the territory, which would come with a cost to it as well.”
Right now, Hill stated that the disintegrator is having mechanical issues because it is old. If Elected Council decides to go ahead with the disintegrator project it will purchase one brand new and it will also be housed indoors.

On what Elected Council is doing regarding the clouds of black smoke that have been reported around the disintegrator on a few occasions, Hill stated that right now, there isn’t any one on the territory who is qualified to assess air quality at the landfill site and they would have to bring in outside experts. “I’ve heard it may cost as much as $100,000 to bring in a specialist,” stated Hill. On whether or not Elected Council has consulted a specialist regarding complaints of burning garbage or clouds of smoke, Hill stated that as of yet, no. She also said that she has spoken with some residents who live near the landfill site and they haven’t complained of noxious smells or smoke. According to Hill, Elected Council is taking the word of Kearns and the emissions testing he preformed in Nova Scotia that his machine is not damaging to the environment or to people.

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