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Lackford composting plant fire may burn for another week

A fire appliance arriving at the site on Wednesday. Picture Mark Westley ANL-151118-132456009
A fire appliance arriving at the site on Wednesday. Picture Mark Westley ANL-151118-132456009

A fire at a composting plant off the A1101 at Lackford, which flared up on Wednesday, may take another week to fully extinguish, Suffolk County Council said today.

The county says small fire broke out at the Lackford In-Vessel Composting (IVC) site on November 6 and the Fire Service, Environment Agency and site operator Tamar Organics had been working closely on the management of the fire, which they say was safely contained at all times.

But following exceptionally strong winds from storm ‘Barney’, the fire spread to an adjacent compost row.

A county spokeswoman said: “The fire is still safely contained and is now being extinguished by Tamar Organics employees with supervision from the Fire Service.

“This work is expected to take between five and seven days and involves the use of machinery and water to sift through the effected material.”

Andy Sibley, Tamar Organics Divisional Manager said: “Fires at composting sites are surprisingly common occurrences. Safety is always our first priority. We have a comprehensive environmental management system in place which covers how to detect, control and contain a fire should one occur.”

Ian Bowell, Area Commander from Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service said: “We currently have a firefighting plan to deal with the burning compost at the waste plant.

“Tamar will be using their plant, machinery and a water supply to turn over and put out the fire. They will also be putting a layer of soil across the top of the compost in order to compress it, restrict the fire and reduce the smoke plume.

“The fire is most likely to have started through spontaneous ignitions through the compost decomposing. However this is a theory and investigations are still ongoing.”

A spokeswoman for Forest Heath and St Edmundsbury Councils said that alternative arrangements had been put in place and waste collections are proceeding as normal.

Following Environment Agency (EA) advice, the operator has voluntarily closed the site to all new incoming waste and that waste will be diverted to alternative facilities in the area.

The EA is investigating the circumstances surrounding the fire and are assessing whether the operator was in compliance with the conditions of their Environmental Permit.

Tamar Organics has apologised for any inconvenience and concern caused to the local community. It has been in regular contact with parish councils and will continue to do so as the situation is resolved. Members of the public can contact Tamar Organics on 0800 840 1229 if they have any queries.


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