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Sunday 31 August 2014

Families told to keep windows shut amid health fears over blaze

Alyson Henry and Fiona Dillon

Published 27/01/2014 | 02:30

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25/01/14
Dublin Fire Brigades attended a fire at Oxigen recycling plant on the Ballymount Road, Co Dublin this morning
Pic Stephen Collins/Collins Photos
Dublin Fire Brigades attended a fire at Oxigen recycling plant on the Ballymount Road, Co Dublin yesterday morning

AN environmental watchdog has warned families in the vicinity of a massive industrial fire to continue to keep their doors and windows closed amid health fears.

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The mammoth blaze at the Oxigen recycling plant in west Dublin has been contained, according to the Dublin Fire Brigade, which had a team of 20 fire fighters there yesterday.

The capital was enveloped by smoke after the fire broke out at 3am on Saturday at the plant in west Dublin, close to the busy M50 motorway and home to many industrial operations.

A spokesperson for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said: "We are taking this fire seriously. The fire has been going on for some time now and there may be a significant environmental impact."

The spokesperson added: "We would urge people in the area to continue to be mindful of smoke inhalation and to continue to keep doors and windows closed where possible."

The EPA classified the fire as a Category 1 incident, posing a serious environmental threat.

Gardai say a number of traffic restrictions in place at the Clondalkin industrial estate today. No access will be allowed past the cordon point at Ballymount Avenue/Ballymount Drive, however, there will be local access into businesses operating in the area.

The blaze was first spotted at the Oxigen recycling plant – which employs 120 people at its branch in the Merrywell Industrial Estate in Ballymount – at 3am on Saturday.

The fire brigade's incident commander in charge confirmed it had been contained after many hours tackling the fire. However, the shed was packed with slow-burning material.

And it may be another day before gardai and fire services can begin forensically examining the site to determine the cause of the blaze.

FUMES

Ciaran Cuffe, a former junior transport minister, said he was extremely concerned about the fumes due to the fire.

"The EPA was suggesting people should stay indoors. It should comment publicly on the health risks associated with this. We also need a statement from Oxigen telling us what went on fire," he said.

He said that the plant was licensed to handle toxic material.

Meanwhile, 60 workers at the recycling plant that went up in flames have been told to turn up at the site on Monday to see if they still have a job.

Those working in the company's core operation of recycling and skip delivery will not be affected, as none of the delivery trucks were damaged.

However, the future is not so clear for the 60 employees working in IT, administration, advertising and finance.

Director of HR and Communications Martin Harrell told the Irish Independent: "It would be wrong of me to say all 60 jobs are definitely safe. But we're doing everything we can to ensure as many people as possible will be kept on."

Employees have been told to turn up for work as normal today to get further instruction.

The blaze was brought under control on Sunday, with just the skeleton of the building now remaining. Yet due to the nature of the highly-compacted recyclable waste material stored in the plant, it meant it was not possible to say precisely when the blaze would be fully extinguished

"It could possibly be up to another 24 hours or even a few days because there's a lot of work to be done up there in terms of moving things around and hosing it down," said a Dublin Fire Brigade spokesperson last night.

Irish Independent

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