Fforestfach tyre fire: Swansea council seeks £1.5m costs

image captionThe fire which burned for three weeks

More than £1.5m has been requested from the Welsh government to help cover the costs of a tyre fire that burned for 21 days last summer.

The fire at the former Mettoys plant in Fforestfach started on 16 June.

Swansea council initially footed the majority of the bill but has since submitted a claim for £1,544,784 on behalf of all the agencies involved.

Two people from Swansea have been arrested and bailed over alleged dumping of 5,000 tonnes of tyre waste.

The police, fire service, health bodies and Environment Agency Wales were among the other organisations who tackled the blaze and its aftermath.

"There were questions raised as to who would pick up the substantial costs," said a report to the council's cabinet.

"A decision was made based on a risk assessment that the council would assume primacy and agreed that all agency partners would take on their respective roles and to commit expenditure as a result of specific activities for which they had to deliver in an effort to manage the consequences of the fire.

Strong collaboration

"The council would then assume the responsibility for submitting a claim, under the Emergency Financial Assistance scheme, to the Welsh government on behalf of the multi-agency partnership."

Councillors were told that given the significant personal and environmental risks, the council had no choice but to fund the required expenditure in the first instance despite the fire being on private land.

The report said the cost to the council was £1m excluding costs incurred by other agencies and it warned the bill could still rise.

"With strong collaboration by all the multi-agency partners the fire took 21 days to extinguish compared to eight weeks in Durham which was the only other similar fire incident in the UK," the report said.

"The original costs identified by the company for the managing and removal of a non-contaminated waste prior to the fire was in the region of £1,300,000.

"We have significantly reduced the actual costs to £775,000 and the material was far more complex to handle as it became contaminated by asbestos."

It added: "The waste has been successfully removed from site and placed in temporary storage at Tata pending an environmental evaluation of its material content.

"The council is in continuing contact with the administrator, insurers and the Welsh government to recover costs."

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