Fire ongoing at former Sunderland waste site
Published: 16 May 2018

A fire which started on 14 May at a scrapyard and waste site previously operated by a waste management firm, Alex Smiles, in Deptford, Sunderland, is still ongoing.

Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service were made aware of the incident just before 6 pm on Monday, and it is expected that the fire will continue to burn until Sunday.

Nine crews from various areas in Sunderland and across the region were deployed, and two aerial ladder platforms and a high volume pump were used. In total, 58 firefighters and 3 officers attended the scene.

The Environment Agency was also present on-site, who commented: "Our officers are on-site working with partners to assess any potential environmental damage including impacts to air and water quality. Our incident room is open and we will continue to monitor the situation closely.

"The site was abandoned last year after the operator went into liquidation. Polluters are responsible for clearing waste and we are working with partners to find a solution as soon as possible."

Local councillors have already started to question why the site has not been cleared since the collapse of Alex Smiles. Lib Dem leader, Councillor Niall Hodson commented: "A Freedom of Information request from the Liberal Democrats revealed the safety risks to the public of this neglected site over two years ago – and the response from the Environment Agency specifically pointed to the risk of fire.    

"I'm not convinced we've seen sufficient action from the council or the Environment Agency to get the site cleared, and frankly it's disgraceful given the number of years that have elapsed with this neglected and dangerous waste dump in the city centre. We need some answers urgently about how this was able to happen."

And Lib Dem leader Coun Niall Hodson added: "A Freedom of Information request from the Liberal Democrats revealed the safety risks to the public of this neglected site over two years ago – and the response from the Environment Agency specifically pointed to t

Read more at: https://www.sunderlandecho.com/news/council-chiefs-say-clearing-alex-smiles-site-would-have-cost-millions-as-they-hit-back-at-blaze-criticism-1-9165705
And Lib Dem leader Coun Niall Hodson added: "A Freedom of Information request from the Liberal Democrats revealed the safety risks to the public of this neglected site over two years ago – and the response from the Environment Agency specifically pointed to the risk of fire. "I’m not convinced we’ve seen sufficient action from the council or the Environment Agency to get the site cleared, and frankly it’s disgraceful given the number of years that have elapsed with this neglected and dangerous waste dump in the city centre. We need some answers urgently about how this was able to happen."

Read more at: https://www.sunderlandecho.com/news/council-chiefs-say-clearing-alex-smiles-site-would-have-cost-millions-as-they-hit-back-at-blaze-criticism-1-9165705
And Lib Dem leader Coun Niall Hodson added: "A Freedom of Information request from the Liberal Democrats revealed the safety risks to the public of this neglected site over two years ago – and the response from the Environment Agency specifically pointed to the risk of fire. "I’m not convinced we’ve seen sufficient action from the council or the Environment Agency to get the site cleared, and frankly it’s disgraceful given the number of years that have elapsed with this neglected and dangerous waste dump in the city centre. We need some answers urgently about how this was able to happen."

Read more at: https://www.sunderlandecho.com/news/council-chiefs-say-clearing-alex-smiles-site-would-have-cost-millions-as-they-hit-back-at-blaze-criticism-1-9165705
And Lib Dem leader Coun Niall Hodson added: "A Freedom of Information request from the Liberal Democrats revealed the safety risks to the public of this neglected site over two years ago – and the response from the Environment Agency specifically pointed to the risk of fire. "I’m not convinced we’ve seen sufficient action from the council or the Environment Agency to get the site cleared, and frankly it’s disgraceful given the number of years that have elapsed with this neglected and dangerous waste dump in the city centre. We need some answers urgently about how this was able to happen."

Read more at: https://www.sunderlandecho.com/news/council-chiefs-say-clearing-alex-smiles-site-would-have-cost-millions-as-they-hit-back-at-blaze-criticism-1-9165705
And Lib Dem leader Coun Niall Hodson added: "A Freedom of Information request from the Liberal Democrats revealed the safety risks to the public of this neglected site over two years ago – and the response from the Environment Agency specifically pointed to the risk of fire. "I’m not convinced we’ve seen sufficient action from the council or the Environment Agency to get the site cleared, and frankly it’s disgraceful given the number of years that have elapsed with this neglected and dangerous waste dump in the city centre. We need some answers urgently about how this was able to happen."

Read more at: https://www.sunderlandecho.com/news/council-chiefs-say-clearing-alex-smiles-site-would-have-cost-millions-as-they-hit-back-at-blaze-criticism-1-9165705

However, Deputy Council Leader Councillor Michael Mordey hit back at their comments: "The Alex Smiles site was abandoned when the business went into administration, leaving behind thousands of tonnes of waste that would cost millions of pounds to remove."

"Despite having no quick or easy means to intervene in these circumstances, the council and the Environment Agency have been working together on a plan to bring the site back into use. Responsibility for the site does not sit with Sunderland City Council, it sits with the former owners' pension fund.  

"The City Council and the Environment Agency have been working hard to find a creative solution to the problem left behind by the site owners when their business failed. It is worth bearing in mind the massive financial burden on public finances this has created and also the failings within the legal system which has meant that no one can be held accountable for what is quite frankly shocking behaviour.

"The responsibility for this lies absolutely with the people who created the problem and it is wrong for anyone – including opposition councillors – to try and suggest that either the Council or the Environment Agency are to blame."

But Deputy Council Leader Coun Michael Mordey hit back at their comments: "The Alex Smiles site was abandoned when the business went into administration, leaving behind thousands of tonnes of waste that would cost millions of pounds to remove,"

Read more at: https://www.sunderlandecho.com/news/council-chiefs-say-clearing-alex-smiles-site-would-have-cost-millions-as-they-hit-back-at-blaze-criticism-1-9165705