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Rio starts to clear fire-hit site in Essex

The first clean-up stage has begun for Rio Recycling, after a fire destroyed up to 21,000 tonnes of woodchip destined for the Dalkia BioEnergy biomass plant in Chilton.

More than a fortnight since the fire began at the Orsett, Essex, site on 5 July, Rio is now levelling the ash heaps left by the blaze. Spreading the ash more evenly will cool and extinguish the remaining embers so it can be removed from the site. Until now, the site has been too hot to begin the clean-up process.

Two large mounds of ash are still in flames and producing smoke, but they are gradually reducing in size. It is hoped the current weather conditions will accelerate the burn-out process.

Rio communications manager Jonathon Howard said: “This is a pretty tentative first step, and we are being extremely careful to make sure that we can start the clean-up process while maintaining absolute safety for our workforce.

“The fire is still burning and we continue to work with all the relevant parties to make sure that it burns out successfully. However, it’s a relief that we are now able to be proactive, rather than being in the frustrating situation of having to sit on our hands and wait.

“Hopefully, during the next few days, we can rebuild the access tracks destroyed by the fire and get more of our equipment into the quarry to support the clean-up operation.”

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