Public meeting called for Weedon fire

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People will have the chance to ask questions and raise concerns following the fire in Weedon last month.

Representatives from the Environment Agency, Fire and Rescue Service and Daventry District Council will be attending a meeting led by Weedon Bec Parish Council, on Wednesday at 6pm in Weedon Bec Village Hall.

On Wednesday 26 June, a major fire occurred at a factory site in Weedon which led to a significant emergency response including the Environment Agency and the Local Authority.

The emergency phase of the incident concluded on Friday 12 July and the premises were handed over to the owner. The efforts of all involved prevented an escalation of the incident and the Fire Service was able to contain the fire to one property.

During the incident a significant amount of water was needed to fight the fire. The fire Service, working with the Environment Agency effectively controlled the water runoff from the site by blocking surface water drains.

Drains at the premises, within the hazard zone of the fire fighting, did allow water to enter the local drainage system; these drains lead to a balancing pond below the site.

The Environment Agency treated the balancing pond to keep oxygen levels high with the aim of supporting aquatic life. When it was determined that the balancing pond was too polluted to maintain life specialist contractors were brought in to contain and clean up as part of the on-going incident management.

The pollution was contained to the pond and a joint decision was then made to maintain all pollution in this area to ensure there was no pollution of the River Nene due to the catastrophic affect it would have on a large geographical area. This plan was effective and no pollution reached the river system.

Group Manager Luke Hodson from Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service said: “This was a significant fire which was contained by the efforts of our Fire Fighters.

“Working with staff from partner agencies, we were able to reduce the impact of the fire and associated hazards to surrounding commercial and residential neighbours.”

“Working with the Environment Agency, we were able to contain the pollution and stop its path to the river Nene and the devastation this would have caused.”

The Environment Agency has continued to use contractors to clean the pond and it is anticipated that this will continue until the weekend. Efforts are now being made to trace the owner of the pond to ensure that any further works to clean up are completed.

Greg Oakes from the Environment Agency said: “We work hard with our emergency partners to prevent fires from causing significant pollution.

“We have to balance the need to put fires out with the possibility of producing contaminated fire water that could escape.

“This fire lasted for many days and we managed to contain almost all of the fire water and put the fire out without further damage to property.

“We have worked hard to contain what water did escape and our efforts here continue.

“We are aware that the pond in Weedon has been badly affected. We have dedicated a lot of resources during the emergency to clean the pond. Now that the emergency is over our contractors will attend one final time to clean as much of the pond as possible.

“The pond will take time to recover. We are currently trying to ascertain who owns the pond to discuss what should be done to further clean it up. We will sample and monitor the water quality to ensure no damage to the Nene occurs.”

Karen Pell, Senior Environmental Protection Officer at Daventry District Council said: “We are pleased with work that was done to put out the fire and minimise pollution. We know that the pond in Weedon received some fire water and are working with the community to assess the odour this is causing.

“As the pollutants in the fire water break down we anticipate there will continue to be a smell and are monitoring the impact of this on residents.

“We are working with the Environment Agency, the community and the owners of the factory to see what solutions might be found.

“Public Health England have confirmed that there are no health risks associated with burnt nut oil.

“We have also contacted the loss adjuster acting on behalf of the factory owners and will continue to liaise with them closely to ensure work progresses as required.”

All partners are working together to find a solution to the contamination in the pond but this could take some time and will involve the company and the pond owner.