THREE weeks after the Averies Recycling fire erupted in Marshgate local residents and businessess are becoming increasingly impatient as it continues to affect their health and their working hours.

Plans are being formulated for the safe removal of the unburned non-hazardous waste to allow firefighters to aggressively tackle the flames.

Fire chiefs have said once a site has been confirmed, the plume of smoke billowing from the site will increase for a time, but are intent upon the best course of action to stop the fire as soon as practicable.

Richard Harvey, owner of the yard adjacent to the Averies site, said workers in the yard have had their businesses hit hard by the constast smoke in the area.

“Because of the smoke several of our people have had to have one or two days off at a time,” he said. “You can’t work in smoke because after a couple of minutes it is in your throat. We have struggled on as best we can.

“The people hardest hit are the ones working outside fitting tyres. One of the businesses is a recording studio and people are being put off going there, so their takings are really down.

“I can understand why it has gone on for so long because the yard was so full.

“The only way they could get to the fire to begin with was through our yard because there is no space for them to work.

“Now they have put a breaker down between us and them.

“One day people can work and the next day they can’t. The rubbish is up to six feet lower than the ground level. There is a whole pile of rubbish still smouldering which is quite frightening.”

Richard Goodman, who works at a car repair shop on Powdrills Yard, said: “It all stinks the workshop out. We have to close the windows in the workshop when it gets really bad, and I know staff at WH Smith are not allowed to open their windows for health and safety reasons. You can’t sit outside in it and you can’t put your washing out.

“I just feel sorry for the people who live next door. We have got a lot of smells in the workshop but the smoke overpowers it. It might be a good idea for the owners of the place to sleep next door to it for a week and see how they get on.”

John Keeping, 70, of Stratton, said he is becoming increasingly impatient but expects the fire to burn for weeks to come.

“I have been told that this smoke is not harmless, and my wife and I have suffered terribly from coughs inhaling these toxic fumes,” he said.

“They say it could be burning for another 10 weeks, and when I asked them why they are not putting it out they say they are not allowed to. If they have too much water run-off it could contaminate the river.

“The only god-send we have had was the recent torrential rain, because at least that killed the terrible smell we have been subject to in the area.

“I have been in the waste industry for some time and PVC is dangerous if it burns. We put the washing out but when we bring it back in it stinks.”

Brian Cosway, 79, of Stratton, said the smoke was affecting his health.

“I can smell it a great deal where I am,” he said. “I have got terminal cancer in my lungs and I have to have my windows open at night. That helps with my breathing.

“But where we are getting this smoke it is pretty uncomfortable if the wind blows the wrong way.

“You do not think about it until it starts affecting you. I have been struggling to get around.”