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Officers continue to investigate as Newport fire still smouldering

Smoke bellowing from a pile of wood chip surrounded by a metal fence

Officers from Natural Resources Wales (NRW) are continuing to investigate and monitor 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 to try and remove the unaffected areas of the stockpile as it is further a fire risk. 

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 has 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 still smouldering in certain areas of the wood stockpile which could take weeks to resolve and as the operator removes waste, more smoke will be produced from time to time.

“Agencies involved continue to keep advice under review. Health officials have said air quality monitoring data does not show any cause for public health concern.

“Additionally, the weather forecast is due for a change of wind direction away from areas that have been affected in the last couple of days meaning people can expect to have respite from the odours.”

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.”  

Agencies involved continue to keep advice under review. At this time, incident-specific monitoring is not advised because there is no plume but intermittent odorous releases. 

This limits the reliability of any monitoring in terms of location and accuracy. That said, measured data at the nearest permanent air quality monitoring station operated by Newport City Council a few miles away‎ do not show any cause for public health

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