TWO years, 11 fires, 550 fire engines, 1,958 hours of firefighters' time and £560,000 in taxpayers money - these figures tell the sorry story of the Waste4Fuel recycling plant in St Paul's Cray.
Callouts to the notorious Cornwall Drive site have seen the London Fire Brigade return there time and again, with ten fires coming in the last nine months.
In total this represents over 1,958 working hours and more than £560,000 in time and firefighting resources.
Left to right: Residents Jan Watkins, Patricia Martin & Maxine O'Connor
Neighbour Maxine O'Connor, 67, of Cornwall Drive, said of the plant: "It is disgusting. The stench yesterday was terrible.
"From Sunday afternoon until Monday afternoon the smell was so bad we couldn't open our doors and windows.
"Even then the smell was coming into our homes.
"And nothing seems to be getting done.
"This is a serious environmental problem. It has really got out of hand."
A fire engine at the site in April last year
When will something be done?
News Shopper editor Andy Parkes said: "The stench is now overpowering when you get anywhere near the site.
"The obnoxious smell is so bad some drivers are even avoiding the area.
"My sympathies lie with the poor local residents. If the foul, acrid smell is that bad in a car driving past with its windows firmly shut, what must it be like for the poor devils living nearby?
"This huge rotting mound of filth grows larger and more gross every day – when will something be done to end this misery?
"Surely this must be reaching a point where this is becoming a threat to the health and safety of local people."
Concerns over the future
In a bid to reduce the impact of Waste4Fuel's blazeson London's tax payers, the fire brigade has now written to the Environment Agency urging them to intervene.
Last November, the agency successfully obtained a High Court injunction against Waste4Fuel Ltd, requiring the company to remove all combustible waste from the site by May 1.
A fire rages at the site in December 2011
But fire chiefs are still concerned that, unless the Environment Agency closely monitors the site, the current level of fires will continue.
Indeed, at the end of last year, Waste4Fuel attempted to secure permission to store more flammable material at the site, a move that was rejected Fire Minister Brandon Lewis MP.
An unacceptable situation
MP for Bromley and Chislehurst Bob Neill said: "The situation is completely unacceptable.
"The Environment Agency is still failing to use their powers to enforce properly - they only seem to look at it in terms to their budget.
"At the same time other public money is being wasted.
"As well as failing to remove the waste, they have failed to take toxicity tests, and the end of last year they tried to add more combustable waste."
Incidents at the plant have often caused traffic problems on Sevenoaks Way
Orpington MP Jo Johnson added: "I, Bob and the council have been putting every pressure we can on the Environment Agency to take action.
"This firm has got to comply with the court order, which it has obviously not been doing.
"What is needed is proper enforcement action.
"It's completely unacceptable to waste tax payers money in this way, it's also disrupting the lives of local residents and it's an environmental menace.
"I am absolutely furious about it."
Left to right: Chairman of London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority James Cleverly, Cray Valley West councillors Judi Ellis, Harry Stranger, John Ince, MP Bob Neill
Chairman of London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority James Cleverly said: "Not only are these fires a significant drain on the brigade's time and resources and a huge waste of taxpayers money, they are also causing considerable disruption to people living, working and studying in the area.
"The very nature of the materials stored at recycling centres like this one also means that if there is a fire it can often spread rapidly and unpredictably, increasing the risk to firefighters."
Waste4Fuel were unavailable for comment.
To view a timeline of the last two years at the Waste4Fuel recycling plant, click here.
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