Fire-struck Averies Recycling enters administration

ARSL's site at Marshgate

Waste management company Averies Recycling (Swindon) Ltd (ARSL) has entered administration, but is still liable to clean up its fire-struck waste transfer depot in Marshgate, the Environment Agency (EA) has stated.

In July 2014, around 1,000 tonnes of general waste and building waste caught alight at the ARSL plant in Marshgate, which was only put out in September after the EA took action to remove 1,000 tonnes of waste to allow‘ aggressive firefighting’ to start.

This followed on from ARSL’s failure to remove 3,000 tonnes of waste from the site to allow firefighters access to the seat of the fire.

The EA estimated the cost of tackling the fire, which burned from 21 July until 15 September, was approximately £500,000.

Off the back of this, the EA issued revocation notices to both ARSL and its sister company Swindon Skips, prohibiting any further waste activities from taking place and requiring all 7,000 tonnes of waste to be removed from the Swindon Skips Brindley Close site by 4 March and the ARSL Marshgate site by 15 April 2015. The EA estimates that this could cost around £1 million.

A statement running on the ARSL site reads: ‘As a responsible, regulated company that is part of an industry that minimises environmental damage by recycling waste material, our priority is to continue to work with partners to resolve this problem.’

Company enters administration

However, removal work has yet to be undertaken and could be further delayed by the fact that ARSL was handed over to administrators Jamie Taylor and Lloyd Biscoe of Begbies Traynor last month. (Swindon Skips has been in liquidation since November 2014 after a general meeting of the board found it could not continue to operate due to its outstanding liabilities).

Despite this, the EA has warned that the company is still liable to undertake the clearance work.

A spokesperson said: “[ARSL] is still obliged to comply with the revocation notice and the associated conditions of the permit.

"The notice contains steps which legally oblige the company to return the site to a satisfactory state and to remove the risks of pollution.”

If Lee Averies, who owns both businesses, fails to comply with the notices, the cost of waste removal from the Swindon Skips site could potentially fall to Swindon Borough Council, as it owns the land. 

Tackling waste fires

The waste industry has encountered an increasing number of waste site fires in recent years, with the average rate of fires at waste and recycling works coming in at just under one per day.

In an attempt to prevent fires from occurring, the Waste Industry Safety and Health (WISH) Forum has issued new guidance 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.

Find out more about the problems of waste site fires.

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