Owners of Fenland tyre depot destroyed in blaze to face Environment Agency prosecution

MURFITTS Industries Ltd has today (Tues) pleaded not guilty to keeping, treating or disposing of waste in a manner likely to cause pollution.

The Environment Agency brought the charge against the company following a fire at the site in Littleport, Ely in August 2009. The fire burned for seven weeks.

Murfitts stores and treats waste tyres under an environmental permit at Wisbech Road.

At Ely Magistrates’ Court the company elected trial at Crown Court.

Murfitts Industries Ltd had been ordered to appear before Ely Magistrates to face one charge under the 1990 Environmental Protection Act. The charge was that:

On or before 21 August 2009 on land at 195 Wisbech Road, Littleport, Ely, Cambridgeshire, CB6 1RA, you did treat, keep or dispose of controlled waste in a manner likely to cause pollution of the environment or harm to human health. (Contrary to s33(1)(c) and s33(6) Environmental Protection Act 1990).

The company, now relocated to one of their other depots in Lakenheath, has been closed since August of last year after 200 tonnes of rubber material caught fire, causing huge plumes of smoke to billow from the site for weeks.

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The fire at the company’s Littleport factory destroyed the processing plant, offices and stock on site.

The fire at Murfitts Industries began on a Friday afternoon last August with a plume of smoke visible for several miles.

Scientists from Oxfordshire carried out tests on the toxicity of the smoke and deemed it not dangerous, the fire service

Murfitts Industries operated a recycling plant that converted waste tyres into a number of shredded rubber products for a range of uses, including all weather exercise surfaces for horses and playground safety surfacing.

The operator held a permit from the Environment Agency to carry out this activity and would have been regularly inspected by its staff.

Following the blaze The Environment Agency response involved opening an incident room at its Ely Office, and 11 Environment Agency staff were involved in the incident, manning the incident room and attending the site in shifts.

The fire involved tyres and shredded rubber material, and had spread to the site buildings, several site vehicles and fuel storage tanks. The Environment Agency called in specialist air quality monitoring consultants to sample air quality in the affected area.

The plume of smoke was being blown across farmland and away from Littleport. Environment Agency consultants sampled air beneath the plume of smoke and found no detectable levels of toxins.