Scrap metal fire poses serious health risks

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United Metals Fire - Limerick Post Newspaper
Flames rise into the night sky at the United Metals scrap yard on Monday night. Photo: Liam Burke

As investigations continue into the cause of a fire at a scrap metal yard in Limerick City on Monday night, a local councillor has called for hazardous industrial activity to be kept away from residential areas.

12 units of Limerick City Fire and Rescue, the county stations of Cappamore, Kilmallock, Rathkeale and Shannon spent ten hours fighting the blaze at United Metals on the Ballysimon Road from shortly after 8pm on Monday.

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When the alarm was raised, the fire had taken hold of a large pile of scrap metal at the rear of the premises.

Firefighters used a 100 ft aerial platform as well as one of the cranes owned by the United Metals company to reach the fire that had started between two buildings at the recycling facility.

The crews remained at the scene until shortly after 6.30 am on Tuesday after sufficiently dampening down the smouldering metal pile.

Gardaí and the Health and Safety Authority are still trying to establish the cause of the outbreak which is the second industrial fire in the area in as many years involving scrap metal.

In May 2017, a towering pile of scrap metal at Clear Circle Metal Recycling caught fire and engulfed nearby houses in smoke as firefighters battled the blaze for almost 13 hours.

The latest incident has prompted a local city councillor to call on Limerick City and County Council to suspend the operating licence of United Metals.

Sinn Fein councillor Malachy McCreesh said that the recent industrial fires in the Ballysimon area highlight the dangers to the general public.

“Allowing hazardous materials to be processed within the confines of populated areas will continue to present health risks.

He said that while robust inspections by the council and the Environmental Protection Agency should be a matter of course, “the only solution that will reduce the health risk to communities will be to prevent this type of activity in built-up areas.”

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