Fire due to be extinguished after nearly a year

A FIRE that has been burning in a smouldering giant pile of wood waste at a rural recycling centre in Aberdeenshire since last summer should be finally extinguished within days, it has been revealed.

The fire at the Keenan’s Recycling Centre in New Deer, near Turriff, has been smouldering since last June after it was believed to have been sparked by spontaneous combustion inside the 500-tonne pile of wood chippings.

Last year council chiefs decided to allow the fire to burn itself out, despite complaints from a local resident, Phil Hemsley, who said that he and his family were having to wear face masks, depending on which direction the smoke was blowing.

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Aberdeenshire Council insisted there was no risk to public health from the smoke generated by the deep-seated fire of wood material.

But the local authority announced in February that, following a multi-agency meeting and on-site risk assessment of the burning pile, steps would be taken to tackle the smouldering material at the recycling centre

And a council spokeswoman said today “The pile of smouldering material at the reycling centre has now been fully dismantled.

“Sections of material were removed and spread out to cool down naturally whenever weather conditions allowed. The remaining material, including that at the core of the pile, has now been removed and is also expected to cool down within the next few days, bringing an end to the situation.”

Councillor Norman Smith, the chairman of the multi-agency group, said: “This is great news and I am extremely pleased that the situation has been resolved. We’d like to thank the residents in the area for bearing with us while this work was taking place, and would re-iterate that the course of action taken by the multi-agency group was always that which would best protect people’s health and safety.”

The council spokeswoman added: “Steps have been taken to prevent a recurrence of the incident at the site, including changes to the composting process, while a liaison group, consisting of the various agencies and local residents, has also been set up to further consider various issues such as the future management of materials.”

The organisations involved in the multi agency group are Aberdeenshire Council’s Environmental Health Service, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Grampian Fire and Rescue Service and NHS Grampian.