Tackling the fire at Lockwood
What stage are we at in tackling the fire?
We should start setting up on site to clear the waste that surrounds the fire in the next week. We need to move the waste first so we can get to the heart of the smouldering fire.
Before any waste leaves the site it will be checked to make sure its not hazardous and if the waste is hot or smouldering, we will extinguish it.
The Fire Service will place a fire engine on site during the operations to make sure that any flare ups are quickly tackled.
We estimate that there may be up to 11,000 tonnes of waste to be removed. This is the same as over 45,000 wheelie bins.
We have had to spend more time than we thought making sure we understand where all the water will go. To do this we have tracked where the water goes by using a special dye.
This is important as we want to avoid water flowing into the river, and to try to stop any water used controlling fires from flooding nearby roads. This is especially important as we head into winter where the water may freeze into ice.
We have also had to do a lot of things to reverse the damage done by the previous occupant.
This has included:
- removing lighting columns that had been put through the underground drainage pipes when they were installed
- removing sections of pipe that had been blocked by wet concrete that had been poured down the drains
- jetting out blocked silted up sections
Air Quality Monitoring
We are monitoring the air quality and can confidently report that the levels of the particles we measure are incredibly low. They are nowhere near the stage where we would be concerned for the health and safety of the public.
The results of the Air Quality Monitoring will be reviewed by Environmental Health daily (not at weekends as no clearance will take place then). On Monday they will assess the results of Friday and over the weekend.
Environmental Health has regularly visited the surrounding area to the site to assess the potential for odour nuisance from site clearance operations.
If Suez staff or the Fire Service notices a detectable increase in odours during site clearance operations they will report this to Environmental Health. Environmental Health will respond as soon as practical and visit the area surrounding the site. If there is identified a significant odour nuisance then work will stop and the working group will convene to examine what further measures can be carried out to reduce the impact of this nuisance.
Noise and disturbance
The expected noise and disturbance will be from the waste removal vehicles, equipment and the fire engines that will be onsite. This will be during the approximate hours of 9am to 5pm daily, except weekends. We will endeavor to keep the noise to a minimum whilst we are working on site.
As waste is removed, we will have an onsite team to deal with any litter problems.
We have been reassured by the Environmental Agency that there will be no flooding risk when we start to use water sprays to dampen the dust particles and when we start to put the fire out.
We put additional security on site leading up to bonfire night, and the West Yorkshire Fire Service will liaise with the Police if any issues arise at any point.
What action is being taken against the companies involved?
Legal services are working towards the 9 January 2017 trial date. Evidence in the form of witness statements is in the process of being exchanged between the parties to the proceedings.
Could the fire affect my health?
What follows is a reminder from Public Health England of the advice they have given us on the potential health-related impacts of the fire.
Their 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. Any smoke can be an irritant and, in areas which are affected by smoke, you should stay indoors as much as possible and keep doors and windows closed. You should then ventilate properties when the wind changes direction. If you need to be outdoors, avoid areas affected by 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 any such symptoms occur as a result of being exposed to smoke, people should contact their 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.
Additional 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 and ask for the Environmental Health team or email email@example.com
West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service: (01274) 682311.
Police: In an emergency please dial 999; for non-emergencies dial 101.