by Andrew Green
Following a series of dramatic explosions at
Parkwood landfill during the night of 30th April, the
Environment Agency is investigating the incident, and
might prosecute the owners Viridor. The cause of the
explosions is thought to have been old lithium batteries.
Following the explosions, a dense black cloud of smoke
drifted across the city centre. Environment Agency staff
were unable to tell the Messenger whether gases
or particles released by the explosion could be a danger
to health, and later added this was a matter for the
Primary Care Trust. The Agency, responsible for monitoring
the site, is not equipped to detect or analyse emissions
in this type of incident. The site is self-regulating.
From 16th July Viridor will no longer be able to accept
hazardous waste on to the site. But the bad smell coming
from the site, which residents said had been very strong
this year, would not be affected. The site operators
are unable to prevent the site from smelling.
The Environment Agency are also conducting an investigation
into an earlier incident, which might lead to a prosecution.
During March, strong winds blew large quantities of
plastic and other rubbish across the public open space
above the site, and into the gardens of nearby residents.
A Kingsmead Estate homeowner showed the Messenger
a photo of a green plastic hospital waste bag, clearly
marked as dangerous. The bag was empty, but what had
happened to the contents?
Viridor sent staff to gather up rubbish that had blown
off their site. But they refused to attend a meeting
of Shirecliffe Forum on 19th May, called to discuss
these latest problems. Local councillors expressed strong
disappointment at their failure to attend. Labour’s
cabinet member for waste management, Harry Harpham,
said, “Local people have the right to know what
went on and if it will happen again.”
“We want some action now, not words, not platitudes,
but deeds,” said Jean Armstrong, of Parkwood Landfill
Action Group (PLAG).
Cllr Harpham told local residents household waste contributed
to landfill, and urged them to waste less and recycle
more. But at the Sheffield University Recycling Forum
on 19th May, David Bird, Head of Waste at the Council
said, “Sheffield City Council does not believe
recycling is the answer.” It has no plans to expand
the successful blue bin scheme and collect other recyclable
materials at kerbside, but favoured “a mixed economy
for waste for the city,” which includes landfill.
PLAG, c/o Green City Action, Abbeyfield
Park House, Abbeyfield Road, S4 7AT.