UPDATE 1.30pm: The London Fire Brigade was dealing with a major incident this morning as a fire broke out close to Viridor’s incinerator on Beddington Lane.
The incinerator has been built at a cost of £210million for the South London Waste Partnership – formed by Croydon, Sutton, Merton and Kingston councils.
The project has been controversial from its inception, and although the incinerator was supposed to be operational by August 2018, it has yet to be fully commissioned.
According to a public relations official working for the incinerator operators, the fire is at the waste transfer centre, which is “co-located” with the incinerator.
Viridor’s PR official was unable to provide any further details in respect of how the fire may have started, nor whether all staff working at the “co-located” sites had been safely evacuated, although a Viridor Twitter account stated that, “There were no injuries and no risk to public health.”
They also claimed that the Environment Agency has been informed, and chose to describe it as “a small fire”.
Viridor’s account was at variance to the London Fire Brigade, stating that the fire was reported at 10.45am. The Fire Brigade say that they were called out 20 minutes earlier.
What Viridor called “The London Fire Service” was, they said, “on site and is managing the fire”.
Despite Viridor’s PR efforts to play down the incident, large plumes of smoke were observed from all around the Beddington area, including as far away as Norbury.
According to the Fire Brigade, they were called out at 10.23am, and crews from Wallington, Croydon and Norbury are at the scene.
“Four fire engines and around 25 firefighters are at the scene of a fire at a recycling centre on Beddington Lane,” the LFB said.
“Multiple calls have been received about the fire, where a large amount of rubbish and a single-storey building is alight.”
By midday, Sutton Council’s in-house spinners were hard at work, pushing the “small fire” lineand claiming that it had been extinguished. And they were even offering up unsubstatiated guesses to explain the soot-laden skies above Beddington: “Waste deliveries are currently being diverted away from the site,” was posted to Sutton Council’s official Twitter feed.
“The cause of the fire has not been identified but waste site operators know that it is most likely attributed to lithium ion batteries. These batteries are the main cause of waste site fires.”
The LFB promised further updates as information becomes available.
*Updated at 12.10pm with detail of the site of the fire, and at 1.30pm with Sutton Council’s lithium battery excuse
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