Tackling the fire at Queens Mill Road Waste Site
We’re working with the West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, Public Health England and the Environment Agency to finalise our plans to tackle the fire at the former Hunter’s waste site.
Tackling the fire
We will start by removing some of the non smoldering waste so the Fire Service can gain access to the seat of the fire.
The waste will not leave the site until the Fire Service are sure that it is safe to move.
Once a path is cleared and the fire is extinguished, the team will begin to remove the waste next to the Novalglaze site.
We can’t say how long this will take as we have never dealt with a situation like this before. There are many things that impact on how long it will take. We will, however, continue to update you on our progress.
Air Quality Monitoring
Our Environmental Health teams have been working with Public Health England on a plan for Air Quality Monitoring.
We will monitor the air quality during the removal of the waste. The monitors have been installed and are now active.
As we remove the waste, we expect the levels of dust in the air to rise. If monitoring methods suggest that there is too much dust in the air, we will change the way we are working onsite until air quality levels are acceptable. This is standard practice for a situation of this nature.
While vehicles are working onsite, the Fire Service may also use water sprays to reduce the amount of dust particles in the air.
We have already removed over 40 tonnes of leachate (contaminated water) from the site – that’s the equivalent of 3 tanker loads. This should have reduced some of the odour. It has also created space for vehicles to move on site.
As we move waste around the site and continue to control the fire with water, there will still be some odour.
Noise and disturbance
When the waste is being cleared there will be noise and traffic movement to and from the site. We will try to keep disruption to a minimum and we will only work from approximately 9am – 5pm Monday to Friday. If required, there may be traffic movement up to an hour either side of these working hours.
We are unable to clear the waste on the weekends as the disposal sites used are not open.
We have no major concerns about rats or flies on site. However, a dedicated Pest Control team has already been on the site setting traps for any pests that may surface. They will continue to monitor and put control measures in place as the waste is removed.
We will keep litter to a minimum and stop it from spreading outside the site.
Water pollution control
We are checking that water used to put the fire out won’t run into the river. We’ve used dye to track where the drains and water connections end up. Blockages have also been removed so water can flow off site easily. This will reduce the risk of flooding the road or forming ice as we head into winter.
We continue to have security on site following reports that unauthorised people were accessing the site.
What action is being taken against the companies involved?
Our case against the parties involved in the planning breaches at the former Hunters site was adjourned on 23 Sept 16. The defendant’s legal team requested the adjournment. The District Judge agreed to the adjournment so that further written evidence about the various defendant’s lease agreements, and current occupation status could be prepared for Court.
The new hearing date is the 9 January 2017. This date will have no impact on the Council’s plans in relation to dealing with the waste to access the seat of the fire.
Could the fire affect my health?
Public Health England’s advice for residents and businesses in the area is as follows:
General health advice
Where smouldering material is burning, smoke may be an issue for members of the public.
Smoke can be an irritant – if you’re in an area affected by smoke stay indoors as much as possible. You should also keep doors and windows closed. Please ventilate your property when the wind changes direction. If you need to be outdoors, avoid areas with smoke or ash if possible, or limit the amount of time you spend in such areas.
Some of the substances present in smoke can irritate the lining of the air passages, the skin and the eyes. Respiratory symptoms include coughing and wheezing, breathlessness, sputum production and chest pain. If you experience these symptoms after being exposed to smoke, contact your General Practitioner (GP) for medical advice, or phone NHS 111.
It is also worth noting that the human nose is very sensitive to odours, and many substances that seem odorous are usually present at low levels and will not have a direct harmful effect.
Odours can however cause annoyance and can lead to stress and anxiety. Some people may experience symptoms such as nausea, headaches or dizziness as a reaction to odour, even when the substances that cause those smells are themselves not harmful to health.
Advice for people with existing health conditions
Smoke can worsen existing health problems like asthma. People who suffer asthma should make sure they always carry their inhaler while the fire flare-ups continue or when weather conditions lead to renewed exposure.
Anyone with an existing health condition such as asthma might need to use their medicines more frequently, but should not use them more than prescribed and should contact their GP or NHS 111 if they think this would be the case.
Useful contact numbers
Environment Agency: (03708) 506506. To report pollution incidents, please call 0800 807060.
For health advice please dial 111 or contact your GP.
Kirklees Council: (01484) 221000
West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service: (01274) 682311.
Police: In an emergency please dial 999; for non-emergencies dial 101.