Residents exposed to smoke pollution from a fire at illegal waste site

The Environment Agency is struggling to put out a fire at an illegal waste site in Rotherham, prompting air and water pollution concerns.

The fire first broke out at Kiveton Park Industrial Estate on 21 September and was later described by South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue as “a deep-seated, mixed waste fire”. 

On 1 November, the Environment Agency brought in an excavator to give greater access to the waste inside the building. However, over two weeks later, the fire, which is being dealt with via a multi-agency operation comprising of the South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue, the Environment Agency, Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council, UK Health Security Agency and the Police, is still ablaze. 

“This work will take some time and we ask local residents to bear with us while the work takes place,” a spokesperson from the South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue said. 

They added that although work is “progressing well”, the nature of the waste and the condition of the building that the material is in means it is “particularly challenging”. 

Residents who live near the site have been asked to keep their windows closed and avoid the area. 

The fire services said that “some substances present in smoke can irritate the lining of the air passages, the skin and the eyes”, adding that “chemicals in the smoke can worsen existing health problems like asthma”.

The Environment Agency has installed an external air quality monitoring unit close to the site and is also testing nearby watercourses on a “daily basis”. According to the agency, so far no pollutants from this incident have been detected

The Environment Agency has also said that it is looking into potential offences at the site and for this reason is unable to comment further on the ongoing investigation.