Work begins to clear 20,000 tonnes of waste from former Alex Smiles site in Sunderland

Work to clear 20,000 tonnes of rubbish from the former fire-hit Alex Smiles site has begun.

Thursday, 30th January 2020, 11:54 am
Updated Monday, 3rd February 2020, 11:08 am

The clean-up, which will last 12 weeks, will help transform the land in Deptford, scene of a major fire back in May 2018, before crane manufacturer Liebherr expands its operation on to the site.

The site has been closed since Alex Smiles went into administration in 2015, leaving around 20,000 tonnes of waste on site.

The fire in 2018 took around three weeks to extinguish. Sunderland City Council took possession of the land in December.

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The fire at the former Alex Smiles site in 2018.

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Once the 20,000 tonnes of mixed waste and restore is cleared, the site will be leased to Liebherr which is expanding its Sunderland base and which employs 200 people. The company is also part funding the clearance of the site.

Council Leader, Coun Graeme Miller, said: "Without council intervention this abandoned waste site would have continued to be a fire risk and a liability for both residents and the City Council.

"Acquiring it has allowed the council to bring a strategically important employment site which otherwise could have stood empty for decades and posed significant risks back into use.”

The council will work with the contractor Acumen Waste and the Environment Agency to reduce the risk of any impact on neighbouring homes and businesses during the clean-up. This may include an increase in odours and dust and possible sightings of vermin as waste is uncovered and removed from the site.ALEX SMILES WASTE CLEARANCE: QUESTIONS ANSWEREDOnce the work starts will the surrounding area experience any increased risk of odours?

There may be noticeable odours in the air, in and around the surrounding area once works begin and throughout the expected 12-week site clearance programme. The Environment Agency are working closely with Sunderland City Council and the contractor to reduce the likelihood of any amenity impacts in the local area, for example, odours, dust, noise, pests etc.Will the City Council and the Environment Agency be monitoring air pollution in the area during the work?

The contractor has submitted plans outlining how they will adapt works on site to reduce the impact should they occur. The Environment Agency will be regularly on site to ensure they complete the works as agreed.What hours will the site be working and will there be any weekend working?

Noise levels are not expected to exceed those that were historically associated with the site when it was operational. Depending on progress, there may be the need to work at weekends but if this is required, the contractor will consider what impacts noise will have on the local area and put measures in place to minimise the risk as much as possible.Will there be an increased amount of traffic / transport activity during the lifespan of the work?

It is expected that 3-4 lorry loads of waste will be transported each hour throughout the seven hour working day.What will happen to the waste once it has been cleared?

It will be taken to a permitted waste facility in Tees Valley for disposal.