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17/06/2019 - Bonfires cause serious damage to the environment & our health


St. John's Night can be a lot of fun especially for our children and young people and while we want everyone to have an enjoyable time, it is the time of year when we ask the community to remember that bonfires can cause serious damage and injuries both to our environment and to our health.


Bonfires can also very often be built close to houses and other property and can cause serious damage and injuries particularly where the burning of highly combustible materials is taking place. 


In the lead up to St John's Night Donegal County Council is asking local communities not to provide materials for bonfires. Suzanne Bogan, Waste Awareness Officer with the Council states that “while traditionally wood and straw were used on bonfires in recent times materials such as tyres, mattresses, furniture, plastics, metal etc are burned on bonfires. This type of activity is illegal. It is also an offence to supply waste materials to parties collecting for ‘Bonfire Night’. The burning of waste such as rubber, aerosols, plastics, foam, mattresses, couches and household waste material in bonfires is very damaging to our health and environment. When waste materials are burned on a bonfire harmful dioxins are created and released into the air that we breathe."


In 2018 Donegal County Council recently ran a series of very successful free mattress collection days funded under the 2018 Anti-Dumping Initiative. Over 1,000 mattresses were collected for recycling across six locations in the County. The intention of this initiative was that by taking such a large quantity of mattresses out of circulation they would not then be available for use on bonfires or illegally dumped.


She added “Donegal County Council is currently monitoring a number of locations were waste materials have been supplied as bonfire material over the past number of years and we are undertaking an audit of certain businesses to ensure that there is compliance under the relevant legislation and to ensure that waste materials are not supplied for burning on bonfires”. 


Tips for a safe St John's Night:

  • Parents, businesses and householders should not provide any materials for bonfires.
  • Do not leave material lying around that may be taken for use in a bonfire; many garage or garden shed items such as petrol, white spirits, diesel, aerosols, batteries, tins of paint, bottles and tyres are especially dangerous if set on fire.
  • Explain the dangers of illegal bonfires to children and teenagers.
  • Keep pets indoors on bonfire night – they are sensitive to noise.
  • Respect the work of the Emergency Services, Council Staff and the Gardaí.
  • Contact the Fire Service by calling 999 or 112 if you see a bonfire being lit close to buildings, trees, overhead cables, underground services or car parking areas.




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