SAFETY concerns were raised two weeks ago with the owner of Averies Recycling, the waste plant near Greenbridge, which went up in smoke on Monday evening.
Firefighters will remain at the site of the fire in Marshgate for some days to come as they keep the flames under control, and tenants at a nearby yard have been prevented from entering their premises by the police and fire services until the area is secure.
An investigation into the site and its owner, Lee Averies, has now been launched by the Environment Agency after safety concerns were raised earlier this month.
The site has been on the radar of the Health And Safety Executive for some time. Between January 27, 2011 and July 31, 2012, six improvement notices and two immediate prohibition notices were served on Averies Recycling for various safety issues.
In November 2013, the company was ordered to pay £73,000 in fines and costs after allowing dust to escape the premises and operating without an environmental permit.
Lee Averies is also a director of Swindon Skips Ltd, which runs the Cheney Manor recycling plant where 750 tonnes of material caught fire in November last year.
A spokesman for the Environment Agency said: “We visited the site at Averies Recycling plant two weeks ago and raised concerns about security on the site with the owner.
“An investigation into the incident is now underway.
“The site has an environmental permit granted by us as appropriate.”
Richard Harvey, who manages the industrial yard adjacent to the recycling centre, said his tenants have been unable to return to their premises since the fire started on Monday evening.
“We were phoned that night by one of our tenants who said the whole thing was on fire,” he said.
“Since then they have not been allowed back. There are nine tenants who rent part of the yard who do various things, but we all had to move out last night.
“There is an awful lot of rubbish there so I can see it taking a good few days to sort out.
“It was fortunate for us that the wind was blowing in the opposite direction. If it has come towards our yard quite a bit of damage would have been done.
“We have seen our insurance rise massively because there has been a huge pile of rubbish right next to our site. It seems that was appropriate now.”
Fire services had to draft in military firefighters and specialist equipment to deal with the blaze, which continues to burn.
A spokesman for Wiltshire Fire and Rescue said: “We were called to the site at 5.51pm on Monday and found 1,000 tonnes of general waste and building waste well alight. A skip lorry and various pieces of machinery had also been affected.
“There have been four fire crews at the site throughout the day and efforts continue to suppress the fire and protect neighbouring buildings.
“Efforts are now being made to reduce the amount of waste involved, but it is expected that the fire will continue to burn for several days at least.
“Smoke is still rising from the site and local people are advised to keep doors and windows closed if they are concerned about the plume, especially if they have a pre-existing respiratory condition.”
Public Health England, which has been monitoring air quality in the area around the fire since this morning, said the smoke is not posing a health risk.
A spokesman said: “There have been a number of large-scale mixed waste fires during recent months which have led to Air Quality Cells being established because of the potential impact on public health.
“Today’s monitoring shows brief spikes in levels of particulate matter but, overall, levels are below the point at which they may impact public health.”
“Our analysis of other pollutants has not identified any potential for an impact on public health.”