Fire services continue to battle recycling plant blaze

Oxigen spokesman hopeful 120 staff can be redeployed to avoid job losses

Sun, Jan 26, 2014, 18:42

Around 20 firemen are still at the scene of yesterday’s early morning fire at a south Dublin recyling plant.

Three units of the Dublin Fire Brigade are continuing efforts this evening to smother what remains of the fire at the Oxigen plant at the Ballymount Industrial Estate, near Walkinstown.

A spokesman for the Dublin Fire Brigade said progress has been made today to control the fire, but the building is still dangerous, making it difficult for firemen to reach what remains of the blaze.

He said they were still taking calls from residents on the northside of Dublin who were concerned about smoke still being emitted from the site.

A warning issued yesterday by gardaí and the Environmental Protection Agency urging residents in the path of a smoke plume remains in and residents are being advised to keep doors and windows closed due to the toxicity of material.

There were no reported injuries but extensive damage was caused to a warehouse.

Older people in affected areas were advised yesterday to reduce physical exertion while people with asthma may find they need to use their reliever inhaler more often.

Oxigen Environmental has said it hopes to redeploy as many staff as possible following the fire. Some 120 staff are currently employed at Ballymount, including in the company’s offices there.

Martin Harrell, spokesman for Oxigen, said though the office block was in the path of the smoke, it was not affected by the fire and will be able to operate as normal. The company’s waste collection service will also operate as normal as almost all its vehicles were removed from the site before the fire could spread to them.

“We can’t say how many jobs will be lost if any,” Mr Harrell said.

The company intended to re-open the facility and would begin planning as soon as the fire is fully extinguished and they can get back on site. In the meantime, Mr Harrell said, he would also be contacting other waste recycling companies in Ballymount, which was a “waste hub”, to see if they had any openings for staff.

Mr Harrell said they had no idea what caused the fire. There had been no electrical problems and the plant had been operating as normal up to 10pm on Friday night, he said.

The fire was first reported to the emergency services at 3.15am yesterday morning and by 3.45am five pumps and a water tanker were on the scene.

Huge plumes of smoke were seen over the capital yesterday and fifteen tenders were needed at one point.

Firefighters experienced problems with water pressure at the site where dangerous chemicals and gases including argon and tanks of oxyacetylene, used for welding, are stored.

Oxyacetylene is highly explosive and can detonate if heated. Argon is a chemical element that occurs naturally in the air. While non-toxic, the chemical can pose a danger of asphyxiation if encountered in a confined space or in large volumes.

Dublin Fire Brigade said today that it would be tomorrow at the earliest before the fire is finally extinguished.