Please find below latest information relating to the fire at Oak Tree Farm, Slitting Mill, Rugeley.
Update based on questions submitted - May 2017
- Is the site being monitored and what action, if any, is being taken to suppress the smoke emissions?
Frequent visits have been undertaken by partner organisations both prior to and since the fire started. These include Staffordshire County Council, Cannock Chase District Council, Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service and the Environment Agency. However, it is the responsibility of Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service to monitor the burning material and smoke emissions as the cap deteriorates. As a consequence, Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service alone have carried out fifty-one site inspections between September 2016 and April 2017. On three occasions during this period, heavy plant machinery was taken onto the site to repair the soil cap that covers the fire, to mitigate the effects of smoke issuing from the stack.
- Has there been any assessment of when the fire is likely to burn itself out?
During the site inspections carried out by Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service, an external thermal scan of the soil cap that covers the fire is carried out. Temperature ranges fluctuate significantly due to many variables, though generally there appears to be a steady reduction in the overall temperature. This said, it is not anticipated that the fire will reach a point where the fire is extinguished to the extent that site clearance could be contemplated until late 2017 or early 2018.
- When the fire has burnt itself out will the site be cleared?
Staffordshire County Council obtained an injunction from the High Court on 27 February 2017 requiring the landowner and operator to clear the site when there is confirmation from Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service that it is safe to do so.
- If the site is cleared, what precautions will be taken bearing in mind that there were rumours that asbestos and other hazardous materials were buried at the site?
The injunction required Staffordshire County Council to draw up a Method Statement for how the site would be cleared by the landowner and operator and the land returned to agricultural use.
- Have local residents to the fire been kept in touch with regarding action being taken to control the smoke emissions?
A public meeting was held at Rugeley Fire Station on 19 September 2016. Staff from Rugeley Fire Station, supported by Amanda Milling MP delivered information letters to residents on the Pear Tree estate in late September 2016. Cannock Chase District Council undertook air quality monitoring that was reported on their website as well as providing any relevant updates when appropriate and publishing multi-agency responses to the many questions asked by members of the public. Various multi-agency press statements have been released since the fire began. The situation has not changed for some time in that the site is still being monitored, the fire is still burning but under the watchful eyes of Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service and remedial work is undertaken to repair the cap as and when necessary.
- What further action will the County Council take to prevent a reoccurrence of this type of problem in the future?
The injunction obtained in February 2017 prevents further waste from being imported to Oak Tree Farm. Should this happen, the landowner and operator risk a custodial sentence, seizure of assets or a fine.
Last Updated: 14/06/2017