Signs of Quebec Industry

Signs of Quebec Industry

On the journey into Quebec City from where we’re staying it’s impossible not to miss the plumes of steam (and smoke?) rising from a number of buildings, seemingly right in the middle of an urban area.

According to our guide the buildings contain a cigarette factory and a paper recycling plant. Up close one of the buildings looked like it was on fire as white steam/smoke escaped from dozens of chimneys on the roof and possibly at the side of the building.

In the foreground are parts of the old City Wall.

Cold Morning Sunrise

cold morning sunrise

The sun had risen about an hour before this shot, taken 2 days ago in Blarney. Actually, across the road from my home. It was a beautiful morning with snow in many places, but the ground was slippy so I had to be careful. Nothing like as bad as this morning when rain and cold made the ground outside like an ice rink!

Aperture ƒ/8
Camera Canon EOS 40D
Focal length 200mm
ISO 400
Shutter speed 1/320s

This is poisoning my son

ash from burned plastic

A few days ago, in the middle of the day, I noticed a smell of burning plastic wafting in the open window of my home office. I looked outside and saw small flecks of black soot or ash tumbling to the ground. When I rushed downstairs and investigated, I discovered a thick plume of noxious smoke coming from a neighbour’s chimney. The little flecks of ash are so fine that the merest touch turns them into black smears.

Burning rubbish seems to be a common enough practice where I live in Blarney, Co. Cork. It hasn’t happened as often in the last few months as in previous years, maybe because of stricter surveillance of backyard burning. When it was at it’s height, I jokingly considered campaigning for an incinerator to be located in Blarney. At least that could properly trap all the toxins released by burning rubbish and it would be regulated.

Anyway, I decided that I need to speak to my neighbour. I politely asked them to stop burning rubbish in their fireplace, I mentioned that there was soot all over the patio in our garden, and that it had wafted into the house through open windows too. They were suitably apologetic, promising that it wouldn’t happen again. That’s as far as I took it, because I like that neighbour. He’s a nice guy and his wife is a warm woman with a ready smile.

Imagine my shock this morning when I looked out the kitchen door and say soot all over the patio again. Someone had been burning rubbish last night. What do I do now?

My son Adam sleeps in a bedroom overlooking the back garden. His window was closed last night because of the chill, but if it’s warm, then it’s open. According to this article I should be very worried about what my son breathes.

Children can be at much greater risk. Because of their body size, they inhale more air per pound of body mass than do adults, and can absorb a proportionately larger “dose” of toxins.

Children’s bodies are more susceptible to damage from the heavy metals found in the smoke of rubbish fires because their nervous systems are not fully developed. Poly-Vinyl Chloride, or PVC, is a commonly used plastic for vinyl flooring (sometimes called carpeting or lyno), drain pipes, guttering, shampoo bottles, packaging, and thousands of other products.

Apparently 57% of rural dwellers in West Cork burn their rubbish. That’s 5 out of every 12 households. Blarney is an urban area however with a regular waste collection. Quentin Gargan has a blog post on this and gorse burning. Here’s the Irish Examiner article he mentioned. A note from Cork Corporation reminds residents that burning rubbish is illegal:

Cork City Council wishes to draw attention to the fact that under the Waste Management Act 1996 as amended that it is an offence to dispose of waste in a manner which causes or is likely to cause environmental pollution.

The disposal of household and garden waste by burning is one such method of disposal that is deemed likely to cause environmental pollution and furthermore is a source of annoyance to persons in the adjoining locality.

I have no idea who burned the rubbish that caused the soot in my garden this morning. I could presume it was the same neighbour but there isn’t any proof. I could stay up all night, with a window open, ready to catch the tell tale odour of burning plastic. Or I could call the Cork County Council litter warden.

Besides the obvious damage burning rubbish does to your health, this may also lead to neighbours falling out and fighting. If the same neighbour is responsible, they have put me and my wife in the unenviable position of having to fight this illegal behaviour. If this turns bad for them, if they’re fined, they’re going to blame us even though it’s their fault in the first place. No wonder people don’t report their neighbours.

What would you do?

Aperture ƒ/8
Camera Canon EOS 20D
Focal length 72mm
ISO 100
Shutter speed 1/160s

R&H Hall Mill on fire

R&H Hall Mills aftermath
City Fire Brigade Well Equipped

This morning, the disused R&H Hall mill on Kennedy Quay, Cork City was the scene of a major fire. Smoke was visible from all over the city, wind blew the smoke up towards Mayfield and traffic was very heavy all over, probably because drivers slowed down to watch the plume of smoke.
From several miles away in Sunday’s Well, I saw two jets of water pour into the top of the building, unfortunately I only had my wide angle lens so I didn’t get a shot of it. This photo was taken with my Canon 75-300 zoom from a residential park off Blarney Street half an hour later.

Seven units of Cork fire service have been fighting a blaze at the disused R & H Hall mill and grain store on Kennedy Quay –

Des has a great photo taken from much closer showing the fire bursting from the side of the building. Pity I’m on the other side of the city!

In recent times, a long plume of thick black smoke trailed from a fire on the north side of the city, and of course, back in 2003 a huge blaze left the Sunbeam Factory in ruins.

This afternoon I spent a few minutes shooting the R&H Hall building from behind the Garda exclusion tape. Smoke was still visible coming from the white silos at the side of the building and just as I left a crane was going to lift members of the fire service up to examine the damage. I ran out of time and had to leave before that happened but things were definitely winding down thankfully.

I sent the top photo to the Cork Independent who have published it in this week’s edition on page 11. I haven’t seen it yet but hopefully I can get a copy later! Check out the photo I took of the article above! It’s the first time I’ve had a photo published by a newspaper and I’m very happy!