Fire could close Lismore tip for weeks
THE compost fires still smouldering at Lismore's waste facility could take weeks to extinguish.
Yesterday, Fire and Rescue NSW Acting Duty Commander Trent Brown, said firefighters are working with the council to safely extinguish the smouldering fire using heavy machinery to pull the piles of compost apart.
There are currently nine large compost piles that are smouldering and producing smoke.
"Now that the strong winds have subsided, the compost piles are being turned and saturated with water, it is slow and labour-intensive work," Mr Brown said.
"We're making some progress today, but it is likely to be a number of days or even weeks before we can fully extinguish the fire."
He said five bulk water carriers were being utilised to resupply water for firefighting operations.
The fire, which started around 1am on Sunday, was quickly contained by emergency services but the compost piles continue to smoulder.
Meanwhile the NSW Environment Protection Agency's Director of Regional Waste Compliance, Cate Woods said the organisation is continuing to receive updates on the fire and its impact from Fire & Rescue NSW and Lismore City Council.
"As at 3pm Wednesday, fire conditions had improved enough for EPA officers to enter the site," she said.
"The NSW EPA continues to work with Lismore City Council on issues associated with waste handling as a result of the impacts of the fire.
"The EPA reminds residents to heed the advice of NSW Health and their doctor (where relevant) on the health impacts of the smoke coming from the fire."
Ms Woods said the EPA is working with FRNSW and Lismore City Council to address the impact of the fire on waste management and air quality.
The council has announced that insurance assessors have now begun preliminary investigations to assess the extent of damage to the Materials Recovery Facility.
A full damage assessment and an extensive clean-up of the site will need to be undertaken before the Lismore Recycling & Recovery Centre can reopen to the public, which could take a number of weeks.
The council's executive director of Infrastructure Services Gary Murphy said there are currently delays to waste collection across the city, particularly with green organics bins.
He said residents are asked to be patient and leave bins out until they are emptied.
"The collection of green waste is complicated by the yellow crazy ant exclusion zones still in place in and around Lismore," he said.
"We are working with the EPA and the Department of Primary Industries to implement a solution but this is causing some delays to our collections.
"We urge residents to please be patient as we sort through these complex issues. Everyone is working their hardest to get the fire under control and services back to normal."
Mr Murphy, said warnings remain in place for residents who can smell or see smoke to stay indoors with windows and doors closed or use a respirator if venturing outside.
"Smoke from the fire could potentially be harmful to people with respiratory or lung problems, and warnings remain in place for residents that can smell or see smoke to stay indoors with windows and doors closed until the smoke subsides or use a respirator outside," said.
"People with asthma who can see or smell smoke can collect free respirators at the Bunnings trade desk by showing ID with a residential address within or around Lismore."