Cotton balls intended for disposal following a fire on a company’s premises (ARIA 41881) arrived at 3 pm at an incineration facility; they were placed in the pit designated to accommodate screening debris from compost crushing. At 4:30 pm, employees noticed smoke, stopped the green waste stream into the pit and sprinkled the waste with turret nozzles and fire protection hoses. The next day, 4 more bins of cotton originating from the same fire-damaged premises arrived at the facility and were mixed with household waste in the incinerator pit. Relying on the site’s stationary extinction systems, employees contained several fires that broke out in the afternoon and evening, at 12:20 am, 1:40 pm, 8:30 pm and 9:00 pm, then again at 3:30 the following morning. A larger fire, ignited shortly thereafter at 5 am, had to be extinguished by municipal fire-fighters, lasting from 5:40 am until 3:40 pm, with 3 water hoses fed by fire reserves and the site’s fire water basin: 32.5 tonnes of cotton and 600 tonnes of household waste involved in the fire were placed in the hopper and incinerated over time as extinction progressed. Throughout this emergency response, the operator rerouted the storage of household waste into the baling unit, while refusing to accept any non-hazardous industrial waste. Fire water was collected in the basins, and no significant breach of atmospheric pollutant emission thresholds was recorded at the output of the 2 incineration lines.

Apparently, the delivery order handed to the cotton ball transport firm indicating “burnt cotton” had not been forwarded to the incinerator operator. Moreover, this order showed that the cotton balls had been opened, yet no sign of sprinkling could be found. The shipper attested that these balls had indeed been sprinkled prior to shipment. A similar incident arose at a waste treatment facility in Mercey (Eure), also upon receiving cotton balls transported by the same shipper.