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NRW looks to technology to fight waste fires

Thermal image of a wood pile

Natural Resources Wales (NRW) has purchased a new thermal imaging camera to help them identify fire risks at waste sites before they happen.

The camera was bought in response to a recent increase in waste fires in Wales as a result of self-combustion.

Self-combustion happens when a heat source is created within a waste pile. This is usually the result of a chemical reaction while the waste decomposes.

Fires that start this way are hard to put out because the source of the fire is usually buried within the waste.

The new thermal imaging camera will allow NRW officers to identify self-combustion risks and advise waste operators on the necessary steps to lower that risk.

Gareth Davies, Senior Environment Officer for NRW, said:

“Protecting communities and the environment that surrounds them is essential for us and part of doing that means making sure our waste is managed safely and correctly.

“Waste fires are a danger to the environment and to public health and this new tool will give us an extra edge in preventing them.

“It’s great that technology can bring these advantages to us and we’re looking forward to using the thermal imaging camera as part of our site inspections.”

NRW officers have undergone Fire Prevention and Mitigation training so that they can also instruct sites on how to store their waste in a way that minimises fire risk.

Fire prevention methods are also being worked into the permits of high-risk sites.

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