Materials

Fire at biomass facility in North Wales

Forty people were evacuated from buildings near a biomass company in North Wales yesterday (13 May), after a fire broke out at the site.

Firefighters from Deeside, Chester, Rhyl and Wrexham were called to the fire at River Lane Industrial Estate, North Wales, at around 11.30 in the morning, after receiving reports of a blaze involving ‘recycled waste’ that was being stored in a warehouse. It is being reported that the building belongs to biomass company Lancashire Fuels 4U Limited, which is in the midst of a legal battle with Natural Resources Wales.

Thick black smoke could be seen billowing from the building, and workers from neighbouring businesses were immediately evacuated.

Residents in the local area were advised to keep doors and windows shut until the fire could be completely extinguished. However, the fire service said the incident was ‘not serious’ and that the main issue was smoke, rather than flames.

One crew remained at the site overnight to dampen down materials.

The cause of the fire has not yet been determined, but an investigation is expected to commence shortly.

Natural Resources Wales taking company to court

This is the second time in the last 12 months a fire has broken out at the location.

 

Natural Resources Wales has already brought charges against the company directors, Richard Baison, Peter Ogg and Claire Smith, for ‘treating controlled waste in a manner likely to cause pollution or harm to human health’.

The charges came after the company reportedly ignored a notice to remove several tonnes of recycled waste at the warehouse just months before a week-long fire started at the site in May 2014.

The hearing is expected to be heard at Mold Crown Court on 14 September, and is estimated to last approximately three weeks.

Increasing amount of waste site fires

The incident marks the latest outbreak of fire at waste sites in recent days, following on from a ‘large fire’ at JWS Waste’s material recovery facility in Salford.

In an attempt to prevent fires from occurring, the Waste Industry Safety and Health (WISH) Forum issued new guidance last year to help waste site operators reduce fire risk.

Endorsed by the Chief Fire Officers’ Association (CFOA), and developed with input from the Environment Agency (EA), the Environmental Services Association (ESA), the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the Health and Safety Laboratories (HSL), and other bodies, the guidance outlines how best to safely manage the storage of materials susceptible to combustion.

The Operations Director of the CFOA, Roy Wilsher, said that the guidance was “hugely useful”.

Find out more about the problems of waste site fires.

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