Review ordered after fire at a Wakefield waste site

Fire at Welbeck on September 13 2011
Fire at Welbeck on September 13 2011
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INCIDENT: A compost stockpile caught fire at Welbeck Landfill Site.

A TIP fire which took at least eight hours to put out led to a review of procedures at Welbeck Landfill Site.

An Environment Agency report into the incident on September 13 suggests too much waste was piled too high when a stockpile of compost caught fire, causing a foul stench around the site.

The inspection report said the fire was reported at 8.50am and extinguished at 5pm that day. Tip bosses used a tractor and digger to dump soil on the stockpile to starve the fire of oxygen.

The report said: “While the windy conditions clearly contributed to this incident it is also possible that the size and shape of the stockpile was also a contributing factor.”

Inspectors and tip bosses discussed “lowering the height and profile of the stockpile” and “moving from storage in one large stockpile to numerous smaller stockpiles”.

The report said fire breaks could be used in between the smaller stockpiles.

Mike Snell, general manager of external affairs for Waste Recycling Group (WRG), which owns the site near Normanton, said the Environment Agency was satisfied with the way the fire was dealt with.

He said: “An unrelated fire at a nearby allotment on the same day may have contributed to the smoke visible. However, we are of course very sorry for any alarm caused.

“WRG will be submitting a review of emergency procedures to the Environment Agency in the coming weeks.”

The report classed the incident as “Category 3”, having only a minor environmental effect.

But Paul Dainton, president of action group Residents Against Toxic Scheme (RATS), said: “This was a foreseeable incident. If you put 2,000 tons of dry material in the same stockpile it is a recipe for disaster.

“And if this was ‘minor’, why did it take so long to put out? The fire was a disgrace and caused a stench around the surrounding area.”