South East Wales

Anger as waste fire in Nantyglo burns for 10 days

Smoke from the fire in Nantyglo
Image caption Residents complained about the smoke at a public meeting on Tuesday night

Residents living near a waste fire that has been burning for 10 days say their homes now smell of smoke.

Firefighters have been battling to put out the blaze at the A Lewis and Co waste site in Nantyglo, Blaenau Gwent.

Environment Agency Wales told a public meeting on Tuesday that the site's permit had not been fully adhered to.

But a representative of the site owner said the situation may have been resolved if the local authority had allowed waste to be moved sooner.

Many residents said the inside of their homes and cars now smelled of smoke and they were unhappy the fire had burned for so long.

Environmental health officers from Blaenau Gwent council told the meeting that monitoring suggested air pollution was not at a critical level, but this would continue.

The council said it was working with South Wales fire service and other agencies to extinguish the fire and expected it to be put out in the next few days.

It is not yet known how the fire started.

"Large quantities of waste have already been moved from the site this week, allowing the fire service to isolate and tackle the fire," the council said in a statement.

"We anticipate the fire will be completely extinguished over the next few days."

The council said once the fire was out, it would complete investigations into whether the cause was related to environmental offences.

Action would be taken if that was believed to be the case, the council added.

Pile of rubbish

Environment Agency Wales told Tuesday night's meeting it would be looking at the site's operations once the fire had been extinguished.

The agency said 720 tonnes of waste was allowed and this had not been exceeded.

However, there were aspects of the site owner's permit that had not been adhered to relating to the turnover of rubbish rather than the overall quantity.

Residents asked the agency if the 720-tonne limit was appropriate in a residential area but the agency said planning permission had to be given before a permit could be issued.

There were also complaints from residents that the pile of rubbish had been getting bigger before the fire.

Rhys Williams, representing A Lewis and Co, told BBC Wales after the meeting the company always tried to comply with the conditions of its licences and permits.

"As of yet the cause is undetermined, whether it's spontaneous or malicious, it's a matter in the hands of the fire chief and indeed the police," he said.

"We always want to be good neighbours. We employ 30 people locally and we're extremely sorry about the incident, which is not of our making or desire.

"We did ask Blaenau Gwent council if we could move some of the material which subsequently burned onto their land on the Monday following the fire. That permission was declined.

"We subsequently asked our assembly member to get in touch with Blaenau Gwent Council and ask them to reconsider."

He said the council finally agreed on Sunday and "we've been moving things around as best we can since".

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