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Emergency action after contaminated water threatened river and sewerage works
ENVIRONMENTAL bosses have taken emergency action to avoid closing a sewerage works and polluting the River Itchen anin Southampton as a fire continues to burn within a 9,000 tonne heap of rubbish.
For the past week fire crews have been dousing a smouldering fire deep within the mammoth dump at Willments Shipyard in Woolston on the Itchen riverside – with no end in sight.
Now the environment Agency has been forced to stop water from the site in Hazel Road running down drains amid fears it may be contaminated by the dumped waste.
Southern Water had warned that if the water flowed into its nearby waste treatment works it could have stopped it from cleaning sewage properly, leading to pollution being discharged into the River Itchen.
A Southern Water spokesman said: “We are not taking any risks that compromise the treatment works.
“As we do not know what is contained in the water and waste fluid from the fire site we will not accept it into the treatment works because there is a risk that it could not be treated to the standards required and it could pose a threat to the environment.”
Environment Agency area environment manager Simon Moody said as well as risking the sewage plant, toxic water could also seep into the ground and flow into the Itchen.
“If there are large volumes of fire water discharged during the fighting of the fire then environmentally this is a major concern,”
The agency is now considering using road tankers to take away the fire water.
Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service said the fire was deep within the huge pile and said it may be forced to take the heap apart to get at the source.
A spokesman said: “It is not uncommon for this type of fire to be a protracted incident.
“If residents are affected by any fumes or smoke they should stay in, close doors and windows to stop this entering their homes.”
Investigators believe the fire started spontaneously after material heated up in “well insulated conditions within the heap”.
This latest fire comes after a major blaze at the site in June last year, although that was extinguished within six hours.
Until six weeks ago the site was occupied by Stayton Waste Management. But the firm last night told the Daily Echo that the heap of building waste was there when it moved in.
The Environment Agency says CI Collins Ltd was the permit holder. An Environment Agency spokesman said: “They went into administration in March this year. We are investigating those who were on site and we are working with the landowners on a way forward.”
Last night the landlord was unavailable for comment.