Metal recycling plants seem to be prone to fire with a number of premises going up in flames recently, including: two at Norstar Steel Recyclers’ Laverton North (Vic) site (https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/residents-urged-to-stay-inside-after-second-industrial-blaze-in-laverton-north-in-a-week-20210111-p56tc1.html), InfraBuild’s Laverton (Vic) site on 4 January this year (https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/smoke-warning-for-residents-after-blaze-at-laverton-north-recycling-plant-20210104-p56rnp.html), an undisclosed site in Wingfield (South Australia) on 17 December last year (https://www.garda.com/crisis24/news-alerts/418306/australia-authorities-responding-to-a-fire-at-a-metal-business-in-wingfield-area-of-adelaide-dec-19), Lucky’s Scrap Metal’s Teralba (NSW) site on 17 November last year (https://www.nbnnews.com.au/2020/11/17/fire-at-teralba-scrap-metal-yard-brought-under-control/),
Indeed a recent survey in the United States (https://www.recyclingtoday.com/article/eref-survey-fires-waste-recycling-facilities/ ) noted that 68 percent of waste facilities that participated in the survey had experienced at least one fire within the past year. Data on reported fires at metal facilities in the US and Canada spanning from February 2016- September 2020 (see figure below) highlight the issue. While Accent is not aware of similar surveys in Australia, the findings are sobering and need to be addressed by industry.
With the proliferation of these types of industrial fires, environmental protection authorities all around Australia are understandably scrutinising these sites closely to ensure these fires do not occur, besides the potential for these types of fires to directly harm people and property, they have other impacts including to air quality, people’s health and stormwater through off-site fire-water run-off. As noted by EPA Victoria’s Steven Pugh when asked about the Norstar blaze, “Stormwater management at any industrial site plays an important part in ensuring contaminants are not discharged to neighbouring properties or nearby waterways”.
Accent has recently completed Fire and Emergency Response and Stormwater Management plans for @Recycal’s Rocherlea metal recycling plant. So, if you are a metal recycler (or other recycler for that matter), contact Accent Environmental to keep your site safe, reduce your risk and to comply with necessary regulations!