River monitored close to fire site
5:30am Friday 1st August 2014 in By Craig Jones, Reporter
THE Environment Agency is monitoring the water quality in the River Cole to check whether it has been contaminated by the fire at Averies Recycling.
Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service is still at the site in Marshgate attempting to put out the blaze which started on Monday, July 21. Since the fire began smoke has continually been seen across Swindon.
Firefighters are working with Averies, Swindon Council, NHS England, Wiltshire Police and the Environment Agency to investigate the cause and reduce the affect the smoke is having on residents and neighbouring businesses.
An Environment Agency spokesperson said the authority had raised concerns of a potential fire risk at Averies during a routine visit earlier this year.
The spokesperson said: “When the fire started we deployed our national air quality monitoring team to provide information to the response. This has now been transferred to Swindon Council. We have also installed water quality monitoring into the River Cole which provides real-time monitoring to our staff.
“We are working with our partners to ensure extinguished waste is being safely removed from the site by the operator. Our officers are at the receiving waste site together with officers from the Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service to ensure that the extinguished waste is transferred safely. The multi-agency response is being hampered by the site operator’s delay in providing responses to requests for information.
“We prosecuted the site in the last year with a £73,000 fine issued as a result. A number of improvement conditions were placed on the site requiring changes in site infrastructure and management to meet the permit conditions. A bund has beenbuilt along the edge of the site, this is currently preventing contaminated fire water entering the River Cole.”
Firefighters have also struggled getting round the site which has hampered their efforts to put the blaze out.
Residents living nearby are getting frustrated that the fire has been allowed to burn for 11 days. It is thought the fire will continue for the foreseeable future also.
Edward Browning, 76, who lives in Stratton Road, said: “I live opposite the fire and I think allowing it to burn for so long is mismanagement. We are still suffering from large clouds of smoke which the wind blows in our direction. I’m forced to close the windows which isn’t ideal during the hot weather.
“I’m surprised the firefighters haven’t put foam on the fire and surely Averies shouldn’t have had so much waste on site. Perhaps they should consider moving to an out of town site so that if anything like this happened again in the future less people would be affected.”
Anyone concerned about inhaling smoke should call NHS 111.
Swindon Council has also appealed to members of their staff living near the fire to monitor the smoke levels from their homes.
A spokesperson said: “There was an appeal put out internally to staff to see whether they’d be prepared to put monitoring equipment in place. We are monitoring at the site but staff were asked because the wind changes direction of the smoke and we don’t have council buildings nearby to monitor it from.”
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