Cyprus Mail

Vasiliko fire caused by mobile unit’s malfunction, shredding company says

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The last remnants of the fire being being extinguished (CNA)

Enerco Energy Recovery Ltd a company affiliated with the Vasiliko cement factory has said the fire that broke out on Saturday in the storage area for cutting of old tyres was caused by a mobile shredder at a time when it was being used by their staff.

The fire was still smouldering on Monday though it was brought under control around midnight on Saturday after spewing clouds of toxic smoke into the air which could be seen for miles.

Enerco said the employees who were working with the shredder at the time “took all the appropriate actions”. This include the use of portable fire extinguishers as well as the fixed fire-extinguishing system that uses water, and other means.

The fire service was immediately informed, it added. None of the staff was injured, Enerco said.

“Despite the efforts due to the strong winds that prevailed at that time, it was not possible to extinguish the fire, as a result of which it spread to adjacent piles of tyres.” the company said.

“With the completion of the firefighting efforts, the investigation of the incident began immediately in full cooperation with the fire service, Emak and the department of the environment”.

Enerco said the storage area was fully licensed and was chosen due to its great distance from communities and homes as well as from crops and forests.

“All safety requirements set out in the storage and management licences are met with due diligence,” it added.
Authorities said on Monday that human health was not directly threatened by the, after surrounding communities staged a protest to express their anger over the incident.

The fire broke out in an open between the villages of Kalavasos and Mari, close to Vasiliko. The cement plant uses the shredded tyres as a form of fuel.

The director of the environment department, Costas Hadjipanayiotou, who was at the scene on Saturday afternoon said it appeared the fire was caused by a malfunction in a tyre shredder that ignited the spark that led to the blaze.

Hadjipanayiotou also said the tyres were there in accordance with the required permits.

Meanwhile, local residents gathered at the old Vasiliko quarry on Monday morning to protest the incident, using it to illustrate their enduring opposition to the relocation of even more heavy industrial plants in the area.

Only last year, the audit office revealed that a company being paid to process massive quantities of used car tyres for Vasiliko was failing to do so.

In a tweet on Saturday, the audit office said it had pointed out the risk of fire from the accumulation of large quantities of tyres in that very area “at a time when some people collect fees to process the tyres”. There had been another fire involving tyres in the same area in the past, the tweet said.

In its report last year, the audit office said that used car tyres located near the Vassiliko cement works plant, close to Mari, had not been processed, despite a company being paid to do so. These tyres had also been included in the quantities Cyprus put in its report to the European Commission as having been processed, the audit office said.

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