Australia – A major fire destroyed the SKM Recycling facility in Melbourne, Australia, last week and led to five people being hospitalised while more than nearby 115 households had to be evacuated. The nation’s Environmental Protection Agency warns that the incident released toxic smoke and marks the recycling centre’s third blaze this year alone.
As many as 20 fire fighting vehicles and over 80 fire fighters were called to the scene.
The response team said the fire was ‘as big as a football field and as high as a factory’.
It has become clear that the fire began on Thursday morning among piles of plastic and cardboard. Soon afterwards, ash was reported falling 15 kilometres away from SKM Recycling’s facility.
EPA officials have pointed out that the recycler has been fined several times over the last twenty years and has failed to meet workers’ safety regulations.
Although the flames were under control this weekend, the fire fighters urged that there is still a major clean-up mission underway. They fear that the blaze may well smoulder ‘indefinitely’ unless the compacted cardboard is properly separated.
SKM Recycling is currently processing some 500 tonnes of plastics, paper and glass on a daily basis. The company has seen a rapid expansion since it was launched back in 1999. It services 30 councils in the Melbourne area.