Push for inquiry into Cleanaway fire

Smoke spewing from the Cleanaway building. Photo: Mark Nowicki
Smoke spewing from the Cleanaway building. Photo: Mark Nowicki

THE National Toxics Network Australia is calling on the State Government to conduct an inquiry into Cleanaway’s Perth Material Recovery Facility, following Monday’s major fire.

The fire happened just after 9am at the facility on Hyne Road in South Guildford and took about two days to be contained by the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES).

National Toxics Australia WA spokeswoman Jane Bremmer said the State Government needed to step up and conduct a “full and thorough” inquiry into the facility, fire and its impact on the community.

“The combustion of mixed plastic waste is a serious concern for health and environmental impacts,” she said.

“It is known to generate deadly dioxins and other toxic pollutants that can cause serious health impacts not only after a short term, acute exposure but over a longer time frame as the pollution deposits in the surrounding environment.

“There needs to be an urgent assessment of the residual ash and particulate depositions in the surrounding community and monitoring of community and worker health.

“Our Government needs to step up and guard our communities against waste management companies who would allow dangerous stockpiles of waste to build up and represent a fire risk in our State.”

The fire in South Guildford. Picture: Jane Bremmer.

A Cleanaway spokesperson said the facility would be rebuilt and they would be conducting an inquiry to determine the cause.

“Cleanaway is working with customers, authorities and other asset operators to find alternative processing solutions for recyclable materials until the MRF is again operational,” the spokesperson said.

“Some material that is unable to be processed elsewhere will be sent to landfill as it is not safe for recycling material to be held where there is no capacity to process.”

A Department of Water and Environmental Regulation spokesperson said the Department was awaiting the outcome of DFES’ investigation into the cause of the fire.

“This will help determine whether any offences have been committed and any further actions by DWER,” the spokesperson said.

“The Department administers the Environmental Protection Act 1986 under which penalties for pollution and other environmental harm can be applied.

“At this stage there is no indication that any offence has been committed under the Act.”

The spokesperson said air quality in the area was being monitored and although no air toxicity levels have been detected at ground level, dense smoke and odours might cause irritation, sore eyes, coughing, a runny nose and an asthmatic response.

They said Cleanaway advised that it was exploring options to divert recyclable waste to its operations in Welshpool, the South Metropolitan Regional Council facility in Canning Vale and Suez’s Bibra Lake Resource Recovery Park.

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