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Huge recycling plant fire could have spread toxic particles across city, warns politician

By David Young

Published 02/09/2016

Firefighters dampen the smouldering remains at the Wastebeater plant in Kennedy Way
Firefighters dampen the smouldering remains at the Wastebeater plant in Kennedy Way
The smoke from the blaze rising across Belfast

In the aftermath of a huge fire at a west Belfast recycling plant, concerns have been raised about the potential environmental impact of the smoke cloud emitted by the blaze.

Green Party councillor Ross Brown told the Belfast Telegraph last night: "I'm worried about the siting of a large waste plant so close to a residential area.

"And I'm concerned that particles in smoke from the blaze could have adverse health impacts on people living locally who suffer from respiratory problems."

The east Belfast councillor said fires at waste plants were worryingly common, and called for closer regulation of the waste industry to minimise the risk.

Ulster University waste management expert Alan Strong said he believed it was fair to say there is always a risk of toxic emissions from fires, but added that the atmosphere normally dispersed the smoke and the particles that lie within it very rapidly. "It depends on what was actually burning in the fire," Mr Strong explained.

A spokeswoman for the Public Health Agency (PHA) moved to calm fears, saying that the organisation's health protection team had already been in touch with the Fire Service about the blaze in west Belfast.

The spokeswoman added the PHA's health protection team agreed with Fire Service recommendations that residents should keep their doors and windows closed.

"The PHA have no concerns about any public health issues arising from the Wastebeater fire," she explained.

Last night the Fire Service said they were treating the blaze, which took 12 fire appliances and 75 firefighters to bring under control, as accidental.

Belfast Telegraph

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