Officials say they want to bring a fire-hit waste site in Sunderland back into use

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As firefighters head into the fourth day of tackling a Sunderland plant blaze, officials say they want to bring the site back into use.

An inferno broke out at the Alex Smiles waste recycling plant in Deptford on Monday afternoon.

The fire is still blazing at the Alex Smiles waste recycling plant.

The fire is still blazing at the Alex Smiles waste recycling plant.

Now, a joint statement has been issued from the Environment Agency and Sunderland City Council.

It says: "Partners involved in tackling the ongoing fire at the abandoned Alex Smiles waste site in Deptford area of Sunderland are continuing to work together to contain the blaze and work towards a solution for the site.

"The Environment Agency, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, Sunderland City Council, Northumbria Police and Public Health England have been responding to the fire since it broke out on Monday evening.

"Officers from all the agencies involved are meeting daily to assess and respond to the latest developments and agree a course of action. Environment Agency officers have attended the site to assess any potential environmental impact of the fire, and to give guidance on fire water run-off and air quality.

The Alex Smiles site.

The Alex Smiles site.

"Sunderland City Council and the Environment Agency are also carrying out air quality monitoring with equipment set up near the site to monitor the smoke from the fire.

"In the long term both organisations are keen to press ahead with their aim of bringing the site back into use.

"The privately owned waste site was abandoned when the business went into administration in 2015, leaving behind thousands of tonnes of waste, requiring millions of pounds to safely remove.

"This has created a massive financial burden on the public purse which the council and Environment Agency were working together to address by bringing the site back into use with minimal taxpayers’ money. Unfortunately the fire happened before this plan could be put into action.

"Although responsibility for the site sits with the former owners’ pension fund which now owns it, both the council and the Environment Agency are committed to continuing to work together to find a creative solution to the problem left behind by the site owners when the business failed."