Cyprus Mail

After Vasiliko fire, MPs agree to take action on tyre recycling

Firefighters battling the blaze early on Tuesday

MPs agreed on Wednesday that a single system needs to be in place for the collection and management of rubber, to avoid incidents like the large fire earlier in the month near the Vasiliko cement factory caused by large piles of old tyres being stored next to a flammable substance.

The issue was discussed on Wednesday at the House environment committee, where MPs heard that if the fire had not been contained it would have caused a huge disaster in the area as the factory is located in the same area as the VTTV oil depot and an electricity authority (EAC) substation.

Disy MP Giorgos Karoulas, who registered the issue for discussion, said that it is important that a single system is introduced for the collection and management of old tyres, to ensure the safety and health of members of the public. He added that the Department of the Environment ought to promote legislation providing for just that.

State services ought to address this responsibly, he said, and all stakeholders involved ought to fully cooperate.

A study should be carried out, he said, to define where and how old tyres should be stored “to avoid any unpleasant incidents like that in Vasiliko”.

The Greens’ MP Charalambos Theopemptou said that despite the existence of licenced companies dealing with the recycling of old tyres, there are still many of them dumped in the countryside.

Unless the collection and management system is improved, he said, the problem will continue to exist.

As regards the fire in Vasiliko, Theopemptou said there were too many tyres near the cement factory, next to a flammable substance. He referred to the EU’s Seveso Directive on major industrial accidents involving dangerous chemicals. The flammable substance, he said, was in a Seveso area.

In addition to the fire, he said, the water used to put out the fire washed away the dangerous substances and polluted the subsoil. The damage needs to be fixed.

The fire service said last week that the Vasiliko fire was probably caused by quantities of spontaneously combustible renewable biofuel (RBF). It said that investigations indicated that RBF was present around huge piles of old wooden electricity poles and old tyres, thus making it highly likely to be the source of the fire and the reason it spread so quickly. Crews were working all night to get the fire under control.

Plans are underway to have a fire station in the area up and running by 2019.


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