Large-scale fires, water pollution and the stench of rotting rubbish will begin to seriously affect the Worksop community if a 60,000 tonne waste pile is not moved soon, recycling chiefs have warned.
The 11 acre waste pile, which has been decomposing at Nottinghamshire Recycling for around two years, has caught fire three times in the past two months and is polluting water nearby as leachate drains off the waste.
CP Environment Ltd have taken over the Shireoaks Road site and are keen to dispose of the waste pile in order to develop a small business unit, but say the company is being “stopped” by the Environment Agency.
Kevin Lee, operations manager at CP Environment Ltd, said: “There have been big fires at this site in the past, and we have recently had several small ones as the internal temperatures of piles of rubbish gets so high they literally spontaneously combust.
“In recent weeks, Nottinghamshire Fire have pumped in the region of 100,000 litres of water on the site, and leachate draining off the waste could flow into the road and affect the area’s water supply.
“We as a company want to clear the site of waste and create jobs for Worksop by developing these small business units. We’re hoping to turn it all round.”
The problem, says Kevin, is that the Environment Agency will not approve a permit that would allow the company to use a “trommel screen” to break down the waste before transportation.
The Environment Agency argue this method could cause further pollution and harm to residents and the environment.
“We cannot afford to dispose of the waste without a trommel screen,” added Kevin. “It would take around six months to clear the site with this equipment, let alone without.
“The Environment Agency will not permit us to dispose of the waste the way we need to, yet they continue to threaten the company with persecution for not clearing the site. It doesn’t make sense.
“One thing is clear- action needs to be taken soon.”
A spokesman for the Environment Agency said: “The Environment Agency is keen for waste to be removed from site to a suitable and licenced facility and has requested that the operator make arrangements to do so on multiple occasions.
“What we cannot allow is for waste to be treated on a site prior to disposal, unless the premises possess a permit to ensure that it is done without causing pollution or harm to people and the environment.
“A permit was applied for, but the Environment Agency did not have confidence in the adequacy of the measures proposed to protect people and the environment or the operator’s competence to comply with a permit, were it granted.
“Consequently, we rejected the permit application. This is currently subject to an appeal.
“There is nothing, nor has there been anything, to prevent the owner of the site from removing the waste to an authorised disposal site at any time.”