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Kent plastics fire prompts smoke warning

Residents close to the Medway City Estate in Rochester were advised to stay inside and keep windows and doors closed as a precaution against smoke after 500 tonnes of plastic waste caught fire at a recycling facility yesterday afternoon (June 7).

Firefighters tackled the fire overnight (Photo: Kent Fire & Rescue Service)

Firefighters tackled the fire overnight (Photo: Kent Fire & Rescue Service)

Eight Kent fire engines and a height vehicle were initially called to the scene on the Medway City Estate at around 5.30pm yesterday, before a further two fire engines joined them at 8.40pm.

A large plume of smoke was visible for miles around the site on Clipper Close in Kent, and Kent Fire & Rescue Services worked throughout the night to tackle the flames and reduce the smoke.

Kent Police and South East Coast Ambulance Service also attended the scene and the facility was cordoned off, although a spokeswoman for Viridor said there were no injuries.

The Environment Agency and Public Health England had also been working with the fire service throughout the incident.

The main seats of the fire have now been extinguished, but around 500 tonnes of stock and an office building at the plastics recycling facility, which is operated by waste management company Viridor, were destroyed.

The fire was “contained to the area of unprocessed plastic waste where it had started” and the recycling plant itself was protected, the fire services said.

Residents nearby the fire were advised to close windows and doors as a precaution (Photo: Kent Fire & Rescue Service)

Residents nearby the fire were advised to close windows and doors as a precaution (Photo: Kent Fire & Rescue Service)

Viridor

Viridor said early inspections suggest that the £12.5 million processing plant itself, which officially opened its doors in November 2014, has “not sustained any significant damage”.

The cause of the fire is yet to be determined, although Viridor said a full investigation is underway.

A spokeswoman for Viridor said the company “will continue to work with the emergency services to ensure a thorough and safe procedure is followed in dealing with the situation”.

Viridor Customers are also being contacted in order to make alternative arrangements throughout the course of today (June 8).

The fire service initially said that a “large quantity of rubbish” – reportedly around 20 tonnes of material – was alight.

Described as one of the most sophisticated plants of its kind in the UK, Viridor’s Polymer Recycling Facility (PRF) is capable of processing around 75,000 tonnes of mixed plastics for recycling each year.

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