Two arrests have been made after a large pile of abandoned waste caught fire near a Yorkshire village.
The Environment Agency (EA) said it had worked with the police over the arrests of the unnamed individuals after fire broke out at the former Wagstaff Total Waste Management site at Great Heck.
An EA statement to local residents on the potential health implications of the resulting smoke said: “The operator’s performance declined in 2014 and our officers noted this. As a result, we issued notices to the operator requiring them to meet the conditions. Failure to comply with a notice is a criminal offence.”
It said Wagstaff entered voluntary liquidation on 13 July this year, and shortly after the liquidator disclaimed the lease.
“In the absence of the site operators, we are working with the landowner to deal with the waste as safely as possible,” the EA said. “We realise that this is a big concern for people living and working in the area and we are working hard to resolve the situation.”
It said arrests had been made “and we will take strong action against anyone who has caused harm to the environment”.
Fire fighting has been hampered by the configuration of the site.
North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service found that there was limited space on-site and it was difficult to fight the fire, “which requires pulling apart and spreading the burning waste material so that it can be extinguished prior to removal from the site”.
The fire will continue to smoulder for some time until the waste can be moved. The landowner is considering options to create space on-site to assist with fire fighting operations.