Occupational Health & Safety

London Brigade Quenches Another Fire at Notorious Recycling Plant

The Jan. 23 fire at the Waste 4 Fuel facility on Cornwall Drive, Orpington, is the 12th at that site since Dec. 3, 2011, according to the London Fire Brigade.

Another fire occurred Jan. 23 at the Waste 4 Fuel recycling plant on Cornwall Drive, Orpington, and 21 firefighters and officers from the London Fire Brigade responded again. This was the 12th fire at that site since Dec. 3, 2011; the brigade reported in December 2013 that its costs for responding to them have exceeded 560,000 pounds ($924,000 in U.S. dollars). At the brigade's request, the Environment Agency already obtained an injunction to compel the plant's owner to remove ignitable materials from the site by May 1, 2014.

"A large amount of waste was alight" when the firefighters arrived. The call came in at 7:22 a.m. and the fire was under control at 2:50 p.m.

Since Dec. 3, 2011, 550 fire engines had responded to fires at Waste 4 Fuel, resulting in more than 1,958 firefighter working hours. Despite the court order, fire chiefs have said they fear the fires will continue unless the Environment Agency closely monitors the site.

James Cleverly, chairman of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, said in December that it is unacceptable that the issues that have caused fire crews to respond to so many fires at the location haven't been resolved. "Not only are these fires a significant drain on the brigade's time and resources and a huge waste of taxpayers' money, they are also causing considerable disruption to people living, working, and studying in the area. The very nature of the materials stored at recycling centers like this one also means that if there is a fire, it can often spread rapidly and unpredictably, increasing the risk to firefighters."

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