Fire services continue to battle Dublin recycling plant blaze

EPA warns residents in path of smoke plume over poor air quality

Sat, Jan 25, 2014, 20:17

Several units of Dublin Fire Brigade continue to battle a major blaze at a south Dublin recyling plant and do not expect it to be extinguished tonight.

Gardaí and the Environmental Protection Agency have urged residents in the path of a smoke plume from the fire to keep doors and windows closed due to the toxicity of material.

Up to 75 firefighters were needed to battle the blaze at the Oxigen recycling plant at the Ballymount Industrial Estate, near Walkinstown. It sparked a toxic fume scare across several neighbourhoods in south Dublin. By the afternoon the number had reduced to around 45.

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

A Garda spokesman said:“We won’t be getting in there for a while yet, it may be at least this evening before the fire is extinguished and we could have to wait until the morning for a forensic examination.” There are no early indications of the likely cause of the blaze.

Investigators believe they won’t be able to start forensic examinations at the plant until tomorrow morning as crews are still trying to extinguish the outbreak. Gardaí are at the scene but a spokesman said the cause of the fire was not yet known.

Gardai sealed off several roads around the site and warned residents in a number of areas — including Crumlin, Drimnagh and Kilmainham — to shut windows and doors and remain inside.

It was feared hazardous materials at the plant and toxic fumes from the fire could pose a health risk.

The EPA said poorer air quality was likely in parts of Dublin affected by the smoke plume. Older people in affected areas should reduce physical exertion while people with asthma may find they need to use their reliever inhaler more ofte, the EPA said.

The blaze was first reported at 3.15am this morning and by 3.45am five pumps and a water tanker were on the scene.

Huge plumes of smoke were seen over the capital. Fifteen tenders were in attendance earlier today and the fire service said the remaining eight are now in “offensive mode”.

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.

A spokesman for Dublin Fire Brigade said it could take several days to put out the fire.

Motorists have been advised to take care in the area as smoke is hindering visibility. AA Roadwatch said the fire is not currently affecting the M50.

In a notice published on their website this afternoon, Oxigen said services will not be affected.

Local People before Profit councillor Brid Smith for an urgent review of licencing of waste management companies.

“The fire raging at Oxigen recycling plant is causing serious pollution throughout the heavily populated working class areas of Walkinstown, Drimnagh, Crumlin and Inchicore,” she said.

Calling for a review of legislation and licencing of waste management companies, Ms Smith said Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan and the Environmental Protection Agency “need to act immediately” to change the regulations and licencing laws which she said currently allow companies to process and store waste close to residential areas.

Additional reporting PA