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Wednesday 27 August 2014

Parcel disruption as toxic blaze forces closure of post depot

Emma Jane Hade, Fiona Dillon, Sam Griffin and Cormac McQuinn

Published 28/01/2014 | 02:30

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Firefighters battle the Oxigen blaze.
A digger sifts through burnt waste.
Firefighters at the scene

PARCEL delivery services across the country will be delayed after the toxic fire at the Oxigen recycling plant forced An Post to temporarily close its nearby premises.

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It is the latest bout of disruption to emerge due to the fire, suspected to be an arson attack, which has now been burning for four days.

The fire has caused major disruption for local businesses and residents, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has had officers on site every day.

An Post confirmed that it was forced to cease operations at its parcel depot in the Merrywell Business Park, Dublin, yesterday evening.

Senior management came to the decision as the smoke and fumes from the fire in the Ballymount Industrial Estate began to blow in the direction of their unit.

"We took a call once the smoke and fumes started to come in our direction to shut down, and we shut down immediately. There is no indication when we will get back in," a spokesperson said.

They added that although they have activated contingency plans, and diverted post and staff to other depots, there would "definitely be disruption" and delays.

Meanwhile, local residents want answers about the contents of the smoke billowing across the area.

Miriam Fitzgerald (57), who lives on the Greenhills Road in Walkinstown, said: "I couldn't believe it when I opened the blinds on Saturday and saw the smoke. The sky was black and the smell was unbelievable. I would like to know what was burning."

The blaze in the Ballymount Industrial Estate has now been burning for four days, and four units from the Dublin Fire Brigade attended the scene last night.

Thirteen units from the Dublin fire services attended the blaze when it initially broke out at 3am on Saturday.

A garda spokesperson confirmed that the fire services have indicated that it will possibly be Thursday before they are "finished dealing with the fire".

Gardai also confirmed that a full investigation into the cause of the fire will be launched once it is extinguished, although it is believed to be arson.

Another fire at a carpet centre in the same industrial estate was reported on Saturday night.

It is estimated that the fire could cost the Oxigen Recycling Plant over €140,000 in charges from the fire services, and that they may be hit by further charges from the EPA.

Management have said that customers will not be hit by this charge, although it remains unclear if it will be covered by insurance.

The fire at the Oxigen plant will be raised in the Dail by Fine Gael TD Catherine Byrne, who said that the fumes from the fire "are a health hazard for both the young and the elderly and indeed anyone suffering with asthma".

She called on Environment Minister Phil Hogan to conduct a review of the storage of toxic materials in residential areas.

"This weekend's fire at the Oxigen recycling facility in Ballymount has made us all aware of the dangers of the storage of toxic materials in residential areas," she said.

She said that she was calling upon the minister and the EPA to conduct a review of the licensing of waste plants in residential areas.

Oxigen said it had recently stopped receiving hazardous waste at the site, although concerns were raised about pollutants and toxins from burning plastics. Asbestos was among the materials stored at the recycling plant but it was removed before it could catch fire.

Oxigen also said domestic and commercial collection services remain uninterrupted.

Irish Independent

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