Burngreave Messenger.
Issue 42 July 2004

Scattered rubbish around Parkwood landfill site.Parkwood tip explodes

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.


email parkwoodaction@fsmail.net


Scattered rubbish around Parkwood landfill site.

Plastic bags stuck on trees.


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Index for Issue 39 March 2004.