BRADFORD MP Imran Hussain has criticised Public Health England and the Environment Agency for failing to do enough to protect public health in regards to the air quality due to the large tyre fire still ongoing at Spring Mill Street in Bradford.
Whilst the blaze started in the early hours of Monday morning, serious concerns have been raised over air quality caused by the burning of toxic rubber tyres.
Mr Hussain claimed Public Health England still has not undertaken a health impact assessment and added that the Environment Agency’s air quality inspectors only visited the site today (Wednesday).
However, Mr Hussain has stated that this is despite numerous demands from the Local Strategic Partnership, a body comprised of Bradford Council, West Yorkshire Police and West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service to oversee the response, for inspectors to visit and assess the site immediately.
Mr Hussain, MP for Bradford East, said: “The Environment Agency were fully aware of concerns at the Spring Mill Street site for several weeks and recognised the danger that a fire may pose to the public’s health, yet health impact assessments still haven’t taken place and air quality inspectors are only just today visiting the site.”
He branded it a “lax response” and claimed it was putting local residents in danger. He said both Public Health England and the Environment Agency have serious questions to answer.
“I have therefore called for an urgent update from both organisations and for a health impact assessment to take place to protect not just residents, but those emergency service personnel who are still at the scene fighting this fire.
“Assessments should have been conducted on the day that the blaze started and air quality inspectors should have visited the site as soon as it was secured, and there is no reason for either agency to be dragging their feet when public safety is at risk.
“As the blaze is expected to continue for several days, I also want to urge residents to remain indoors wherever possible and to keep their doors and windows closed at all times, and to stay away from the site to let the fire and rescue service do their job.”
The T&A asked PHE to respond to Mr Hussain’s claims, but it said it would respond to the MP directly, adding that it would not be appropriate to comment until it had done so.
It did offer the following advice: “Residents in areas affected by the smoke should stay indoors, keep their doors and windows closed.
“In general, exposure to smoke is more likely to affect people who have existing breathing problems, lung or heart conditions.
“The very young and very old, smokers and people with flu or flu-like illnesses may also be at greater risk after exposure to smoke from fires.
“People who are generally fit and well are unlikely to experience long-term health problems from temporary exposure to smoke from a fire.
“If you must go outside, to minimise your exposure, limit the amount of time you spend outside in the smoke.
“People with asthma who may be in the vicinity of the fire should carry their inhaler.”
The Telegraph & Argus also contacted the Environment Agency, but have yet to receive a response.
However, the agency did issue a tweet today to say: “The Air Quality Cell have set up an air quality monitoring unit today as part of the response to the large fire on Upper Castle Street. This monitoring will be used to confirm the public health risk advice given by Public Health England.