The Malta Independent 21 October 2021, Thursday

NEW VIDEO (2): Huge blaze at Sant’Antnin waste plant, residents told to close windows

Monday, 22 May 2017, 14:05 Last update: about 5 years ago

A large blaze has engulfed part of the Sant' Antnin was recycling plant in Marsascala.

The fire is believed to have started in large packets of plastic waste, and then spread to the whole plant.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said the Labour Party will shut down the plant and convert the area into a national park.

The police have no information of injuries but said the blaze was extensive and members of the Civil Protection Department are on site.

(Footage above was taken by eNGO - Zibel)

CPD is advising people who live in the vicinity of the plant to close their windows and ventilators and to go outside if any smoke goes in.

Workers at the site were evacuated.

Fire at Sant’Antnin waste recycling plant from The Malta Independent on Vimeo.

The road leading to Marsascala has been closed for security measures.

Addressing a press conference, Environment Minister Jose Herrera told the press that the fire occurred at the Material Recovery Facility.

The minister explained that the part of the plant which processes the black bags has not yet been affected by the fire. "The storage of Refused Derived Fuel (RDF) has always had an element of risk. Part of the RDF received by the plant is exported and part is sent to the landfill. When the storage is full it is exported," he said. This is the modus operandi we inherited," the environment minister said.

He said that part of the reason behind the PL pledge to get rid of the plant was due to possible incidents like this. He said that RDF is flammable, and there is always the fear of such incidents. He said these are incidents which can happen. "The risk at Maghtab would be reduced, as it is a controlled landfill, so the possibility of such fires is reduced," he said.

Minister Carmelo Abela said  eight or nine fire engines from the CPD are on site, human resources on site are increasing and NGOs have also been called in to assist the CPD. "The fire could take hours or days to control and turn out", he said.

"The minister explained that the first aim of the work by the CPD is to control the fire, to ensure it won’t spread. Following this, they will begin working to turn off the fire.!

He appealed to people not to come to the area in order not to disrupt the CPDs work. As for the direction of the smoke, as a precaution people should not stay away from the areas where there is the smoke as there could be a certain danger which is not yet known.

Till now the situation seems to be under control, and for now it seems the fire will not spread.

A magisterial inquiry has also been called.

 

Authorities should inform the public of the health hazards - PN

In a statement the Nationalist Party urged the health authorities to inform the public of the health hazards associated with the fire at the Sant’ Antnin recycling plant in Marsascala. "It is not enough to tell people to stay indoors," the party insisted. 

"The plant handles large amounts of plastic waste which when burnt in the open air poses a serious health and environmental risk. The impact of the black fumes is not limited to the immediate area surrounding the plant but will be spread to different locations around the island depending on wind direction."

The PN insisted that the fire "could only be the result of mismanagement," and no move of the plant would eliminate such risk.

"If the plant were to be moved to Maghtab, as Muscat is pledging, the hazards associated with such a fire would be magnified. If the fire had to spread to the old dump, the hazards would multiply because of the mixed untreated waste dumped in the area over the years," the PN said. "This is not a matter of political gain but of public safety."

Authorities issue warning

In the situation of the fire currently in progress at the Sant’Antnin Waste Recycling Plant and the resultant smoke/fumes, the Ministry for Health is alerting the general public to the precautionary measures in such situation for public health protection.

The emissions from this plant are a mixture of gases, chemicals and fine particles from burning waste. People who have heart or lung diseases, like heart disease, lung disease, or asthma, are at higher risk if they are exposed, the ministry said. 

 

To decrease your risk from exposure to smoke and particles, persons living in the vicinity are advised to:

  • Stay indoors and keep indoor air as clean as possible. Keep windows and doors closed;
  • Contact your doctor if you experience any health effects such as shortness of breath and other respiratory symptoms. Call for further advice if your symptoms worsen;
  • Further communities may be affected depending on the wind direction which is currently blowing north-northwest at 8 knots according to MET office;
  • For further information, contact the Health Promotion and Infectious Disease Directorate helpline on 21324086.

Gree/grey bag collection as usual

GreenPak is informing the public that the green/grey bag collection will take place tomorrow Tuesday as normal.

“GreenPak is seeking the publics support following the extensive damages that Sant’ Antnin Waste Sorting Facility in Marsaskala has experienced this afternoon.

As the facility’s capability for sorting mixed recyclable materials has been significantly compromised, GreenPak is urging the public to make more use of the bring-in sites until the situation returns to normal.

GreenPak CEO Ing Mario Schembri stated: “We remain committed to keep recycling of waste going despite this unexpected setback.  Thankfully there are other options and we urge the public to separate glass, plastic, paper and metal by using the respective colour coded and marked bins at bring-in-sites. This will serve to help alleviate the need for mechanic sorting that was carried out at Sant’Antnin facility.”

“In the light of this emergency situation, GreenPak will be increasing the frequency of emptying bring in sites. We urge the public to call on 2166 0233 or email at [email protected] if a particular bring-in-site has reached its full capacity.

 

As this is an evolving situation, GreenPak will continue to provide recycling services, while keeping the public up to date about any developments. 

Photos above Paul Jones

The fire is visible from many parts of the island, as can be seen from the photos uploaded on Facebook below.

 

 

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