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Health alert over choking smoke from rubbish fires

Large-scale burning of household rubbish at Dunsink Lane is causing concern.

Thick black smoke has been seen coming from the area on a number of occasions, most recently last Thursday afternoon.

When contacted, Fingal County Council admitted it has received complaints about rubbish burning at Dunsink Lane before.

However, it was not contacted about the most recent incident.

"There have been complaints about that area before," a spokeswoman for the local authority told the Herald.

She said the council relies on members of the public to contact it when burning might be taking place.

Regulations established last year strengthened the law against the burning of domestic and other waste.

Burning household waste is prohibited unless you have a waste licence.

It was revealed at a Fingal council meeting that the local authority removed more than 4,000 tonnes of waste from Dunsink Lane in three years.

However, in that time, only one person has been caught dumping.

The council said it will not collect any more rubbish from the lane because removing it only causes more dumping.

Huge piles of waste dumped at the location will now remain there, though fears have been expressed that it is a health risk.

The council said it has proved nearly impossible to catch those who are dumping because much of it was carried out at night.

Trying to catch whoever is responsible for night-time dumping carries risks to the safety of the council's enforcement staff, it said.

The council believes most of the dumping is being done by residents of one of the unauthorised sites on the lane.

It is examining the feasibility of installing CCTV cameras to try and pinpoint who is responsible.

Already in 2010, council officials have spent more than 130 hours on Dunsink Lane involved in covert CCTV surveillance, as well as road checkpoints.

Two clean-ups took place in 2008 and the lane was also last cleaned of illegally dumped rubbish in March 2009.

Each operation has led to 1,400 tonnes of waste being collected.

Fingal said it has not been possible to gain enough information to bring a prosecution against those who are dumping.

Burning household waste in the open releases dangerous dioxins.

The Waste Management (Prohibition of Waste Disposal by Burning) Regulations 2009 clarified the offence of disposal of rubbish by uncontrolled burning.

The regulations provide exemptions for certain agricultural practices but only as a last resort.