Calls for St Albans recycling depot to close as inferno blazes on

THE ongoing fire in a wood pile at at a recycling depot has prompted disgruntled neighbours to campaign for its closure, claiming it has blighted their lives for too many years.

The current fire is the third time that materials at the Appspond Lane waste recycling depot in Potters Crouch have caught alight in over 10 years according to one neighbour, who wishes to remain anonymous.

She said: “They’ve [Wood Recycling Services] dug through our water mains three times so we’ve had no water.

“I don’t understand how they continue operating under a new company name.”

She said the wood pile was at least 60ft high, adding: “Why hasn’t anybody done anything to stop them?”

The woman was one of many residents to lose electricity and be placed on a generator while the fire raged as well having to resort to bottled water when water supplies were too low.

With the support of other neighbours of the site, she has been campaigning for it to be shut down for many years now. But with such small numbers, they did not have much of a voice, she admitted.

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She contacted the Environment Agency (EA) calling for the depot to be closed down because she believed the company was “flouting laws”.

The resident also said she had contacted St Albans district council: “All the council did was email me information from a doctor in London about inhalation of smoke and that you should stay indoors.

“How can you keep indoors if you run a farm and have animals?”

She added: “It also said if you fell unwell go to your doctor.”

Another neighbour, who also preferred not to be named, commented that the smoke was “horrendous”, adding: “My house stinks, my car stinks - everything smells of smoke.

“We’ve got sore eyes and my horses have got sore eyes.”

She added that contaminated water from when the fire was being extinguished ran onto her fields so she could not put animals on them.

The EA reportedly took tests to establish how the water had affected the ground.

“It was really bad. One test came through that there’s a high level of nitrogen. I had to move my horses.”

She went on: “I blame the Environment Agency and the council for this. I don’t know what’s happened but someone’s not doing their job properly.”

The resident added: “I can’t use that field, not until I know what’s happened to it.”

St Albans district council confirmed the EA had been dealing with air quality concerns early on but that they had now taken over from them.

A spokesperson for the EA said they had tested the liquid that came off the site during the fire and were awaiting the results.

n Neighbours have also voiced their concerns about the lack of firefighters at the site in the past week, with one person maintaining they needed to be working down there all the time.

But a Herts County Council spokesman said that although fire was still burning, there wasn’t a full time fire crew there because staff at the site were monitoring it.

Firefighters are visiting the wood-pile blaze once a day as it has got to the stage when it’s burning out.