Waste site fire may burn for weeks

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

As of February 18, 2010 firefighters have been spending a second week tackling a deep-seated fire at a waste site in West Yorkshire.

The fire broke out at the site in Dewsbury on February 7, 2010, and has been smoldering away ever since. The combination of the sheer quantity of waste, difficult access, as the site is located near banking to a river, and the proximity of homes and commercial premises has made this a protracted and delicate operation.

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service have been working with the Environment Agency and Kirklees Council, who have been removing some of the waste to provide better access to the seat of the fire.

“A large rubbish fire may appear trivial but due to its location, and in the interests of public safety, we have had to be there around the clock,” said deputy chief fire officer Steve Beckley. “Hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of lifesaving equipment may be tied up for weeks but we will be there supporting the local community for as long as it takes.”

Three fire engines and an aerial appliance are typically there each day.

Mr Beckley paid tribute to his staff for working long hours in dirty and difficult conditions, and also praised the Environment Agency and Kirklees Council for their help in removing some of the waste and finding a temporary holding area.

“If we couldn’t move excess rubbish and work more effectively we could be there for months,” he added.

Fires on waste sites, such as this one, show, once again, how dangerous our practice of burying out rubbish is. Much like coal, waste can ignite due to the heat created within the landfill or tip and then burn as a smoldering fire or or can become even more dangerous.

When taking into consideration the materials that are contained within such waste tips the danger to the public, to water courses, and the environment is automatically, I should think, apparent to everyone.

In addition to that such sites also contain amounts of methane gas that, to all intents and purposes, could ignite and even explode if in closed pockets.

The greatest problem from refuse tips and fires on them come from the toxic fumes that are being released by the materials, at times unknown substances, that may end up being burned and also the danger of materials there that could do mor ethan just smolder or burn.

We must rethink, more than ever now, our strategy as to dealing with waste and, despite of NIMBYs and protests, consider, once and for all, to burn all that rubbish that cannot be recycled and using the burning process to create energy.

© 2010