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Sandbag wall built to protect businesses near fire-hit Sunderland waste plant

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The impact of a blaze which broke out at a former waste site in Sunderland is continuing to be monitored by the Environment Agency.

Workers have been monitoring the impact of the blaze at the site of the former Alex Smiles recycling depot at Deptford which broke out on Monday.

Firefighters and Environment Agency staff have built a sandbag wall to prevent run-off water from the Alex Smiles fire affecting other businesses. Pic: Environment Agency.

Firefighters and Environment Agency staff have built a sandbag wall to prevent run-off water from the Alex Smiles fire affecting other businesses. Pic: Environment Agency.

At its height, up to 50 firefighters were involved in bringing the fire under control.

Now, in a bid to minimise the impact to neighbouring businesses and the environment from fire water run-off, a field operations team from the Environment Agency have been building a sandbag bund wall.

The team tweeted earlier to say they are working alongside Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service.
According to firefighters, there was around 30,00 tons of waste still at the depot which needed to be dampened down. Plumes of smoke could be seen for miles.
The site’s position next to the Wear meant there was no shortage of water available, however, the risk of pollution from water run-off was feared.
People living and working nearby have been advised by Public Health England to keep their doors and windows closed.

They were encouraged to limit the time they spend outside and avoid the smoke.

Firefighters and Environment Agency staff have built a sandbag wall to prevent run-off water from the Alex Smiles fire affecting other businesses. Pic: Environment Agency.

Firefighters and Environment Agency staff have built a sandbag wall to prevent run-off water from the Alex Smiles fire affecting other businesses. Pic: Environment Agency.

Where this is not possible they should reduce physical exertion in areas affected especially if they experience symptoms such as cough or sore throat.

The majority of people are unlikely to experience any health effects following exposure to smoke from a fire, however because any smoke is an irritant, it can make people’s eyes and throat sore.

Smoke is more likely to affect people who have existing breathing problems, lung or heart conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, chronic pulmonary disease or heart disease.

It can also affect the very young and the elderly. People with these conditions should avoid strenuous physical activity in areas affected by smoke.

People with asthma who may be in the vicinity of the fire should carry their inhaler.

As work continues to remove debris not affected by the fire, there may be an increased odour, which although unpleasant is not a risk to health.