North Wales investigators looking into UPM Shotton fire

Investigators are looking into what caused a fire that broke out at newsprint recycler UPM Shotton’s North Wales materials recovery facility (MRF) in Deeside last night (30 January).

North Wales investigators looking into UPM Shotton fire
Library image of the UPM Shotton MRF
The fire broke out at the UPM Shotton facility, which sorts materials including paper and cardboard ahead of its recycling at a separate facility on the site on Deeside Industrial Estate at around 8.00pm last night.

The company says that the fire took place in an ‘isolated part of the plant’, and that the whole facility was immediately shut down, with all MRF employees evacuated safely.

UPM Shotton’s Emergency Response Team responded with its own onsite fire appliance and six further engines from the North Wales Fire and Rescue Service (NWFRS) were required at the incident, which was brought under control just after midnight, with crews leaving the site at 1.30am.

It is thought that the initial site of the fire was in a waste residue holding bay. Fire investigation teams were on site alongside the NWFRS and further investigations will be undertaken today.

David Ingham, General Manager of UPM Shotton said: “We are grateful to the emergency services who responded in a timely and professional manner to bring the situation under control. Paper production is unaffected with no downtime. All other operations on site continue as normal. We will provide further updates as appropriate.”

The UPM Shotton MRF processes approximately 200,000 tonnes of material annually. The main recycling facility on site opened in 1985 and produces 100 per cent recycled newsprint as part of UPM Paper. In 2015, the company shut down one of its newsprint machines as part of a Europe-wide restructuring of UPM’s operations, leading to 121 of the 370 jobs on site being lost.

Waste fires are a problem that have been the focus of investigation by the Chief Fire Officers’ Association (CFOA) for the past year, as the industry and firefighting services seek to find greater evidence as to how fires comprising of waste materials can best be prevented and fought.

According to the CFOA, there have been around 250 incidents of waste fires per year for the last decade, with an estimated cost to fire and rescue services of around £16 million a year.

More information is available in a comment piece written by Mark Andrews, Waste Fires Lead, at the Chief Fire Officers’ Association, for Resource suggesting how the waste industry can reduce its fire risk.

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