Land at a farm in Staffordshire has been on fire for over two weeks, and residents living nearby have been offered advice by Health experts after asbestos was found at the site.
Over a thousand tonnes of waste has been burning on Oak Tree Farm in Rugeley, which was originally started as a controlled fire to burn wood.
The fire couldn’t be put out fully by the fire crews because they were concerned about contamination of local water.
Since then, Staffordshire Fire And Rescue Service have informed the public that some materials that were burning on the farm contained asbestos.
Public Health England have issued a statement outlining the risk to the public from possible inhalation of smoke from the site.
“Experience from similar asbestos fires suggests that the likely public exposure will be very low and asbestos fibers are unlikely to be readily released into the smoke plume from asbestos containing material (ACM).”
“This is particularly the case for asbestos cement, which is the type of asbestos discovered at Oak Tree Farm, but also applies to other types of ACM.”
“Moreover the fire is of relatively low intensity which would also tend to limit the amount of fibers released into the atmosphere. Lastly, the material has been damped as a consequence of firefighting activities.”
“If there was a significant amount of ACM discovered most of the risk to human health would be restricted to the immediate surrounding area where specialist clean-up operations would be required to safely dispose of the material.”
Residents advised to take extra care with regards to smoke
Experts have said that it’s very unlikely that residents living nearby Oak Tree Farm had been exposed to any significant levels of asbestos, but do advise people in the area to keep their windows and doors closed and stay away from the smoke.
The local council are going to install specialist air monitoring equipment at the site.
For safety reasons, the pile of burning wood will be topped with soil in order to stop firefighters being exposed to the asbestos fibers while they work on the site.
This is due to take a couple of days or so to complete, and although it won’t put out the fire, it will mean there is some sort of protective barrier in place to reduce the amount of smoke escaping from the site.
Duty holders and employers have a legal responsibility to manage asbestos in their building so as not to put employees at risk. Contact our Armco office for asbestos management and refurbishment/ demolition surveys on 0161 763 3727 or by visiting http://www.armco.org.uk/