DUP MLA Gary Middleton says urgent action must be taken by the statutory authorities to ensure a huge blaze that engulfed the former Brickkiln plant at Maydown on Wednesday isn’t repeated elsewhere.
Dozens of firefighters were tasked to the blaze shortly after half past eight.
Firefighters are advising homeowners and businesses in the Electra Road, Maydown area, to close windows as a precautionary measure.
“This fire will cause further environmental damage and action must be now taken as a matter of urgency to ensure there is not a repeat of this at other sites,” said Mr Middleton.
The Londonderry MLA has repeatedly raised concerns about the condition of the site since the administrators took control during the Summer.
In September he urged the Environment Minister Mark H. Durkan to tackle rats, waste and odours in and around the site.
Most recently he raised the issue in his capacity as a member of the Stormont Environment Committee, prior to his move over to the Finance and Health briefs last week.
Mr Middleton said pests and waste management were a big problem.
Officials from the Department of the Environment (DoE) advised that the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) was continuing to inspect the site and liaise with the administrators to ensure that the waste was being managed properly.
A specialist firm was apparently employed to deal with the pest problem.
But who’s paying?
Committee Chair Anna Lo asked at the time: “I just wonder how much it would cost the Council to do all that. It’s all extra. Would the administrator be, you know, paying for it? Or anybody else paying for it, rather that the local Council?”
Wednesday’s fire is only the latest inferno at the Brickkiln plant.
There was a similar fire in November 2013, when 200 tonnes of recyclable material had to be moved to fight a blaze, which, firefighters said, had likely been a case of “spontaneous combustion.”
Back then the site was still under Brickkiln’s management. But it isn’t anymore.
In October the director of Brickkiln, Tommy McGlinchey, told the Sentinel that the Council’s decision not to pay for a contracted disposal service carried out by the firm meant the waste on-site would likely be landfilled by any prospective new owner as there would be no contractual requirement under the terms of sale of the Maydown site to dispose of the on-site waste via energy recovery.
He told the paper this would negatively affect the new supercouncil’s energy recovery targets.
The Council said that following the NIEA’s suspension of the company’s waste licence on July 10, Council has been working to resolve processing issues at the facility.
It now appears, at least, some of the that on-site waste will have been incinerated in Wednesday’s fire.