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Fire at JWS Waste

Image of JWS Waste site fire from Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service

Around 40 firefighters from six fire stations around Manchester attended the scene of a blaze in Salford last night (26 April), after several tonnes of waste caught fire at JWS Waste’s materials recovery facility (MRF) in Salford.

Fire services received reports of smoke emanating from Westport House on Frederick Road at around 11pm yesterday evening, and found ‘a large fire’ involving a ‘large amount of recycling waste’ once at the scene.

Residents were asked to keep their windows and doors closed while smoke was issuing from the fire, and Frederick Road was closed for several hours as a precaution.

The road re-opened this afternoon (27 April), after crews had spent the night dampening down materials. Three engines remain on the scene to continue wetting the recyclable materials, and are expected to remain on site into the ‘early evening’.

The cause of the fire is unknown at this stage, and investigations are said to be underway. 

‘No significant damage to the plant or the buildings’

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service Group Manager Jon Aspinall commented: “When crew arrived they were greeted with a large fire and a lot of smoke. We worked hard with the site owners to get control of the fire as quickly as possible. 

“In addition to fighting the fire, we also conducted an environmental plan to make sure that any water used is disposed of safely.” 

JWS Waste has said that no one was injured at the site, and maintained that the fire was ‘only minor’, adding that there has been ‘no significant damage to the plant or the buildings’.

Robin Tweedale, Managing Director at JWS Waste, commented: “Thanks to the immediate response of the fire service and our staff, the fire has been contained to a specific area on the site. JWS Waste have focused on minimising any disruption to our customers, maintaining collection services and plan to have the MRF and all services fully operational within 24 hours subject to the approval of the emergency services – a thorough investigation into the cause of the blaze has already commenced.”

Increasing amount of waste site fires

The incident marks the latest outbreak of fire at waste sites in recent days, with Viridor and Veolia both experiencing fires at their landfill sites in the past week, which followed on from five blazes at waste sites over Easter bank holiday. Further to this, it had previously been estimated that there is an average of one fire per day at waste and recycling sites.

Speaking to Resource last month about the large number of waste site fires, Nicky Cunningham, Deputy Director of Site-Based Regulation at the Environment Agency (EA), said: “Everyone who disposes of waste has a duty of care to ensure their waste is handled correctly. We insist site operators have permits, systems and procedures in place to minimise fire risk. On GOV.UK, we have recently published clear, streamlined guidance to the waste industry on the actions they must take to minimise the risk of waste fires.

“The Environment Agency recently ran a public consultation on changes to the rules for permitted waste sites. Within this we asked for views on the introduction of a new fire prevention plan requirement for those permitted sites allowed to store combustible waste material. Changes from the consultation will come into effect in summer 2015. 

“While many in the waste industry work to high standards of safety and create positive environmental benefits, unfortunately some operators fail to operate within the regulations – creating a completely unacceptable risk to local people and the environment. The Environment Agency will investigate and take enforcement action against those who break the law.”

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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