On a Saturday afternoon, between 4:45 p.m. and 5 p.m., after a hot day, a fire broke out on the upper part of a 300 m² mound in a storage cell of a non-hazardous waste facility. Operations on this cell had been recently completed, and the intermediate covering work was in progress. A farmer, having property immediately adjacent to the site, sounded the alarm shortly before 5 p.m. The firefighters and the site’s foremen were able to surround the area and smother the flames with water and then covered the affected area with soil using a tracked loader and a compactor. The premises were then abundantly sprayed down with water to avoid any renewed risk of fire. The incident was terminated at 8:30 p.m. A system was then set up to monitor the premises until the site reopened the following Monday morning.
No particular damage was observed in the storage cell and container, nor on any technical element of the site.
The period of extreme heat and drought was designated as the cause of the accident. Due to its westerly orientation, the mound was exposed to direct sunlight by in mid-afternoon. The upper part of the mound was not yet sufficiently covered as the covering work had started on 1 September. Furthermore, the stored waste had become drier, difficult to compact and therefore increasingly combustible since early August. Finally, a more significant amount of bulky waste had been brought to the site following a fire at a nearby storage facility during the night of August 6-7 (ARIA 48416).
Following a similar incident that had not resulted in any particular damage in July 2015 (ARIA 46973), the operator had already performed several specific actions during periods of high temperature:
- installation of a detection and warning device, featuring a thermal imaging camera, has been scheduled. This system should be operational by the end of October;
- since early August, the operator installed a preventive watering system on the cells in operation. In order to do this, an agreement was reached with a neighbouring farmer having equipment adapted to this type of intervention;
- during periods of hot and dry weather, the regular coverage of the cell in operation is performed more carefully because it constitutes the main effective barrier against the outbreak of fire;
- the waste compactor is equipped with an onboard device that sprays an odour neutralising product. During periods of intense heat, this system is used to humidify the waste during compaction.