Llandow waste fire: £40,000 fine after two-week blaze

Fire at Llandow site Image copyright EPA
Image caption The fire burned for two weeks, fed by 2,000 tonnes of rubbish

A recycling firm that failed to follow its own fire prevention plan prior to a two-week fire at its site has been fined £40,000.

About 2,000 tonnes of household waste caught fire at the Siteserv plant near Llandow, Cowbridge in March 2017.

A previous investigation by the fire service found the pile of rubbish had self-combusted after becoming too hot.

Natural Resources Wales (NRW) said Siteserv had breached the conditions of its environmental permit.

Cardiff Magistrates' Court heard the company had allowed "massive" quantities of rubbish to be stored for too long without fire safety breaks in place to minimise the spread of any potential blaze.

The company previously pleaded guilty to two counts of breaching its environmental permit, between 2016 and 2017, and was also ordered to pay £3,122 in court costs and a £170 victim surcharge.

NRW said its officers had repeatedly visited the site for more than a year before the fire to warn Siteserv about storing rubbish for too long and without proper safety measures.

However it said the recycling company had ignored the warnings and failed to meet deadlines that it set to cut the amount of waste being stored at one time.

In their investigation, the fire service concluded the blaze was caused by "accidental ignition" after the waste began to naturally heat up before self combusting.

Image copyright Llandow Caravan Park
Image caption Smoke from the fire blanketed Llandow Caravan Park

Sharon Evans, who runs Llandow Caravan Park next to the site, said she had had to send all holiday makers home and close the site for the entire 14 days that the fire burned.

"You couldnʼt see any of the caravans, it was covered with thick acrid smoke, and bits of paper that were dropping all over the park. You couldnʼt breathe in it, you could taste it. It was horrendous." 

Ms Evans said not even her staff could access the holiday site during the fire because of the smoke, with the caravan park making a claim on its insurance for two weeks loss of earnings.

Susana Fernandez from NRW said: "This fire could have been avoided, had the company followed their own fire prevention plan and heeded the advice of our officers, and South Wales Fire and Rescue," she said.

"Unfortunately the company failed to make this a priority and the community paid the price." 

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