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Fire at waste station is caused by dumped flare

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A SMALL fire occurred at the new waste transfer station at Longue Hougue yesterday after a flare was put in with general rubbish.

The automatic sprinkler system at the waste transfer station put out a small fire yesterday but firefighters attended just to make sure. (Picture by Nigel Baudains, 25531016)

It ignited when the bags were put through a shredder in the initial stage of processing.

The fire was dealt with quickly by the activation of the automated fire suppression system fitted to the fixed plant, but the Guernsey Fire & Rescue Service attended to ensure it was fully extinguished. Processing operations were stopped for 45 minutes.

Waste services manager Joe Adams said it highlighted the dangers which some objects can cause.

‘Flares pose a clear and obvious danger, both to our staff and to the equipment, so it is really disappointing someone has not disposed of it correctly,’ he said.

‘In a sense we are fortunate that it ignited in the shredder, where it was quite contained. It could just as easily have gone off in the back of the collection vehicle, or in the main hall of the transfer station, which could have caused considerable damage and risk of injury.’

States Works is reminding people to take care when disposing of potentially dangerous or hazardous items.

Other items that pose a potential risk to equipment and staff include batteries, gas canisters and aerosols. Other hazardous materials such as asbestos, which releases harmful fibres into the air when disturbed, must also not be disposed of in general waste.

The transfer station is equipped with a full sprinkler system to deal with any major fire incident. Mr Adams said the risk could be reduced if people took care.

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‘Our primary concern is for the safety of the staff operating the station, as well as the protection of public health and the environment.

‘It is also important to ensure any potentially costly repairs or processing downtime is avoided so the new transfer station can operate efficiently.’

Electrical items or large metal objects could also damage machinery if included in general rubbish. These should be taken to the household waste and recycling centre at Longue Hougue, where they can be dropped off for free.

At the transfer station, waste is mechanically shredded to reduce the material to a suitable size before extracting metals. It is then compressed and baled, ready to be exported for energy recovery.

. Flares can be disposed of at AB Marine or the harbour office, both at the White Rock, or at the police station. States Works also offers a free collection service, which can be arranged by calling 242263 or emailing hazardouswaste@gov.gg.

Lithium batteries are found in mobile phones, watches, calculators, e-cigarettes, tablets, laptops and digital cameras. All these items, as well as the lithium batteries themselves, can be taken to the household waste and recycling centre.

Nigel Baudains

By Nigel Baudains
News reporter

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