Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment contains fire raging at Biesiesvlei Waste Tyre Storage Depot

The fire raging at Biesiesvlei Waste Tyre Storage Depot in Litchtenburg contained

Officials from the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment’s Waste Management Bureau are on site monitoring efforts to extinguish the blaze at its Lichtenburg Waste Tyre Depot.

The fire at the Waste Management Bureau’s Biesiesvlei Waste Tyre Storage Depot broke out after a veld fire, assisted by strong winds, spread several kilometres yesterday, on Thursday, 20 July 2023 reaching the depot at around 13:55.

The firefighters from the Ngaka Modiri Molema District Municipality have been on site since yesterday afternoon and remain on site. Fire breaks were created to contain and control the blaze from spreading further and these managed to contain the fire at around midnight.

No-one has been injured and no properties have been damaged as a result of the fire spreading from the Depot.

The Waste Management Bureau has been leasing a 30 000 square meter portion of a farm in Biesiesvlei, North West Province, for use as a waste tyre storage depot since 1 November 2019. The Litchtenburg Waste Depot is currently operated by a third party contracted by the Waste Management Bureau.

In May 2023, the Department received complaints from members of the public regarding the safety of the depot and the potential risk it posed to surrounding properties.

The Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment commissioned an investigation of the Depot in May 2023, which resulted to a number of interventions instituted as part of the process to decant the Depot. These include that:

No new tyres have been received at the site since 25 April 2023;

Nine casual workers have been hired to restack the stockpiles of tyres and clear excess vegetation;

A mobile baler was moved to the Depot on 4 June 2023 to bale loose passenger tyres and to create space at the depot; and

The site has been targeted for supplying loads to processors, including the local cement kilns.

These interventions have assisted with emptying the depot and this no doubt assisted in the ability of the fire fighters to contain the blaze on site.

The Department would like to assure communities that work is continuing to create additional and wider fire breaks to ensure the fire remains contained and the remaining tyres do not pose a safety hazard.

To provide a permanent solution to the potential hazard the current depot poses, the Waste Management Bureau is in discussions with the cement industry to increase the volume of tyres they use as fuel stock.

This will be coupled with the development of waste tyre depots on the cement kiln’s mining land, away from communities. An announcement in this regard will be made within the next two months.

For media enquiries, contact:

Peter Mbelengwa

Cell: 082 611 8197

Source: Government of South Africa

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