Remondis fire, Carr Lane on Sunday, 4th December 2016

Updated on 9 December 2016 – Contributors Remondis, Environment Agency, Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service, Health and Safety Executive, Knowsley Council, Public Health England, NHS England

What is the latest update on the fire?
Firefighters are continuing to assist Remondis in taking the building down piece by piece in a safe way. There are still pockets of smoke within the site due to the deep-seated nature of the fire.

Following a meeting between Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service, the technical demolition team and Remondis, fire service operations at the site will change from 4pm on Friday, 9 December 2016.

Fire appliances will remain at the scene until 4pm on 9 December to dampen down smoke pockets but, as of 4pm, Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service will attend at regular intervals determined by the officer in charge to walk the site, survey the situation and dampen down smoke pockets as required. This system will continue over the weekend.

Agencies will reconvene at 9am on Monday morning to discuss developments and the next steps forward.

Are road closures still in place?
With effect from 3pm on Friday, 9 December 2016, Carr Lane has re-opened.

What was stored at the site, and which of those materials were burned in the fire?
This site holds an environmental permit for the treatment, storage, transfer and disposal of hazardous and non-hazardous waste. Full details of the permit for the site can be found on the Environment Agency website by searching Public Registers. The Environment Agency is currently waiting for the fire to be fully extinguished and the building deemed safe to enter by the emergency services before all the materials can be identified.

The activities approved at the site are to recover materials for re-use or recycling. The waste handled is permitted to be from both commercial and industrial sources and is categorised as both hazardous and non-hazardous.

What is the known environmental impact?
Environment Agency officers have visited the area of the site to assess the impact of the fire. At this time, all of the fire water has been contained onsite. Environment Agency officers have monitored Prescot Brook and there appears to be no environmental impact to the water course.
Air quality tests are in the process of being carried out.

Are there any risks to my health?
As with any fire incident, Public Health England are advising residents to keep their doors and windows closed and avoid prolonged spells outdoors when smoke is present. Anyone with asthma should use their inhaler and / or other relevant medication.

Dr Sam Ghebrehewet, a Consultant in Health Protection with PHE North West, Cheshire and Merseyside Health Protection Team, said: “It’s important that local residents understand that the risks to their health are low, however smoke is an irritant so it can make people’s eyes and throat sore. It may also worsen any breathing or heart conditions they have. Short term exposure is unlikely to cause any health concerns in otherwise healthy individuals; we would not consider that there would be any long-term health impacts associated with exposure to the plume.”

In summary, Public Health England advice is:-
• You should minimise contact with smoke.
• If your eyes are sore, bathe them in cold tap water until they feel comfortable.
• If you suffer from asthma and the smoke triggers an asthma attack, use the inhaler you usually use to relieve the attack, and call NHS 111 for advice. If they do not seem to be working or if the attack gets worse call your GP.
• For any other medical problems call NHS 111 or your GP.
• When driving through any smoke, close windows and air vent, use your headlights, slow down, and drive with care.
• Once smoke has cleared in your home open doors and windows to ventilate the building.

Some residents reported a bad smell in the air – what does this mean?
A smell is no indication that it is harmful.

Is there asbestos at the site?
There was no asbestos at the site. A section of asbestos roofing was replaced following planning approval for the current use.

There have been reports of debris in the area surrounding the fire. Is it dangerous?
Public Health England has advised that there is the potential for ash and debris from the Carr Lane incident. It is advisable for members of the public to minimise their exposure to the ash and debris but if they do get this on their cars or other hard surfaces, it can be damped down or washed off.

Who is responsible for operating the site?
Remondis UK are the owners and responsible operator of the site.

Who is responsible for regulating the site?
The Environment Agency regulates the site under the Environmental Permitting (England & Wales) Regulations 2010. Their responsibilities include controlling the types and amounts of waste, emissions to water, dust, noise and odour control.

The law on health and safety at work in Great Britain is regulated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and local authorities (LAs). The Health and Safety (Enforcing Authority) Regulations 1998 allocate the enforcement of health and safety legislation at different premises between LA’s and HSE. Allocation is based on the main activity on the premises and in the case of Remondis the HSE is the enforcing authority.

The Council’s Planning Service is responsible for the enforcement of planning law across Knowsley in relation to breaches of planning control. This includes ensuring that new buildings granted planning permission follow the approved plans; and that any conditions imposed are complied with.

Planning conditions may relate, for example, to the timing of construction activities, the materials proposed to externally face a building or the general scope of uses permitted to be undertaken at a business premises – such as permitting a building to be used as a shop rather than a restaurant.

However, the Planning Service is not responsible for regulating health and safety issues or for assessing and inspecting the detailed operation of a business - these matters fall outside the remit of planning law and are governed by other agencies including the Health and Safety Executive and the Environment Agency.

Why wasn’t I notified given I live so close to the fire?
In emergency situations, timely and accurate messages are communicated via social media channels and the local media, including radio stations and local newspapers. Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service, along with the police and local authority updated their facebook and twitter feeds with updates from the scene. Residents did not need to be evacuated.

What will happen next?
Once the fire is completely extinguished and the site is made safe, there will be a thorough investigation to identify the cause of the fire and any further action that needs to be taken.

Is there someone I can talk to if I have further concerns?
Remondis UK understands there may be concern regarding the impact resulting from the incident to the local environment and residents. Anyone with any concerns relating to the above should contact mark.dacre@ivesandtaylor.co.uk