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Officers continue to investigate as Newport fire is out

Newport wood recycling facility that is smoking

Officers from Natural Resources Wales (NRW) are continuing to investigate a Newport wood recycling facility where a fire broke out over the weekend.

Action by South Wales Fire and Rescue has put out the blaze but, due to the nature of the waste, the wood pile may continue to smoulder for what could be weeks.

South Wales Wood Recycling Ltd at Newport Docks has an estimated 20,000 tonnes of South woodchip waste onsite awaiting recovery.

Officers have been attempting to work with the site operators for some time to try and reduce the stockpile as it was a fire risk.  

Small hot spots had developed which were smouldering and the operator was instructed by the fire service to dig out the hot spots and spread and dampen down the wood to cool it down.

Unfortunately, the situation escalated over the weekend and the waste wood caught fire which was dealt with by South Wales Fire and Rescue.

NRW officers are monitoring the impact of the smoke and fire water run off on the environment and local people working with health professionals.

An investigation is ongoing to determine what can be done to reduce the risk and NRW will take the appropriate action if necessary.

Natural Resources Wales have been taking action at the site and served an enforcement notice on the operators last month to tackle the stockpile and reduce the risk of fire.

Ashley Lansdown, leading on the incident for Natural Resources Wales, said:

“The fire is no longer alight but is still smouldering in certain areas of the wood stockpile which could take weeks to resolve.

“In the meantime, we will continue to support the fire service and make sure we try and manage the environmental impact of the fire. We are also working with Public Health Wales so they can advise on the risk to people.

“We will also be investigating to look at what happened and how this can be avoided in the future and, if we need to take further legal action.”

Sarah Jones, Consultant in Environmental Health Protection, advised             

“If you live in a place affected by the smoke, stay indoors and keep doors and windows closed. If you need to be outdoors, try to avoid areas affected by smoke or ash. Smoke can irritate air passages, the skin and the eyes leading to coughing and wheezing, breathlessness and chest pain.

“It can also worsen existing problems such as asthma and people with asthma should carry their inhaler with them at all times. Anyone concerned about their symptoms should contact their GP or NHS Direct on 0845 46 47 or at www.nhsdirect.wales.nhs.uk. These symptoms usually disappear very soon and should not lead to any long term health problems.

“At home, close doors and windows when affected by the smoke, but make sure you open them again to air your home when the smoke passes.

“The smells are usually at levels below which there may be harm to health, but can still cause annoyance, 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.”

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