Health fears as fire still burning

Fire at recycling facility, Stanton-by-Dale.
Fire at recycling facility, Stanton-by-Dale.

More than a month on from when the blaze started, a huge pile of wood at Stanton is still smouldering, prompting fears for neighbours’ health.

Erewash’s Labour group this week called for an independent enquiry into the blaze, amid reports that Arcwood Recycling, on whose premises the fire started, has been evicted by site owner Saint-Gobain.

Apart from the effects of smoke, still being felt by neighbours, at the peak of the blaze last month, dozens of dead fish appeared in the nearby Erewash Canal and Trowell Primary School pupils were kept inside at break times.

Cllr Howard Griffiths said: “I’ve seen plenty of dead fish in the canal, as far down as Long Eaton and suspect that we’re facing serious pollution from the fire.

“Some fish were large and showed no external damage.

“However, fish fatalities may not be the sole consequence of this disaster and I’m extremely concerned that the human population both now and in the future may be at risk from dioxins.

“The damage could be profound and may not be calculable for years to come.”

Dioxins are potentially dangerous chemicals typically formed during fires where there is incomplete combustion of materials containing carbon, oxygen and chlorine, such as plastics.

But the Health Protection Agency, which aims to protect the public from threats to health from environmental hazards said it was unlikely the smoke from the fire, involving 7,000 to 8,000 tonnes of wood, would contain such chemicals.

“Whilst such emissions cannot be discounted in this case, a wood fire of the type involved in this incident is considered unlikely to be capable of producing significant quantities of dioxins,” said a spokesman.

But she added that the organisation was ‘not aware of any air quality monitoring being undertaken in relation to this incident’ and so could not comment on specific substances and the concentrations of those substances contained within the smoke.

Saint-Gobain confirmed this week that Arcwood Recycling had been evicted from its land.

A spokesman said: “The tenant is now vacating the site and Saint-Gobain PAM has taken control of it.

“We are continuing to liaise with the Environment Agency and the fire service on an ongoing basis to manage this situation.

“At this stage, the fire service believes the remains of the fire are best dealt with via a ‘controlled burn’ and it has left the site because it believes the fire poses no risk to local residents or properties.”