Two waste management companies have been ordered to pay a total of £224,530 after a 200m exclusion zone had to be set up when a fire caused discarded aerosol containers to blow up and rocket into the air.
The blaze happened at Aztec Aerosols in Crewe after an explosion took place in a shredding machine not designed to safely handle flammable liquids or gases.
Waste and recycling firm Greenway Environmental, which was using the site housing the shredder, and shredder manufacturer Pakawaste were prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
The peak of the fire covered 10,000sq m. Surrounding roads had to be closed all day as aerosols shot into the air on to roads and damaging buildings. More than 100 fire fighters and 25 fire engines were involved in putting out the blaze, and prevented flames reaching cylinders containing 25 tonnes of liquid petroleum gas situated nearby. No-one was injured.
Investigating HSE inspector Gill Chambers said: “This was a serious incident that caused major disruption in Crewe, and had the potential for workers and the public to be badly injured.
“There was obviously a fault in Pakawaste’s design and manufacturing process, which resulted in the shredding unit exploding. Greenway should have had better procedures and arrangements in place to protect its workers and prevent the fire from spreading.”
Greenway was found guilty of failing to ensure the safety of workers. It was fined £37,500 plus costs of £50,000. Pakawaste was found not to have safely designed and constructed the shredder. It was fined £50,000 and ordered to pay costs of £87,030.