25 Jan 2013

Fire at the recycling plant in Johnstone

Hugh Henry MSP raised fears about WRC Recycling in a letter to Strathclyde fire chief Brian Sweeney just hours before a raging fire at the plant.

Hugh Henry MSP is pictured down at the plant with former senior fireman
George Kennedy (left) Councillors Chris Gilmour, Derek Bibby and John Hood.
Community activist Margaret Lavery (front) who is vice chair/secretary of
Quarrelton Area Tenants Association is also pictured.

The recycling factory in Floors Street, Johnstone went up in flames on Monday night and now the politician - who voiced the concerns of the community - is calling for the factory to be shut down.

Renfrewshire South MSP Hugh Henry said: “This incident
confirms my view that WRC recycling should not be located next to a residential area close to Johnstone town centre. By the grace of God no-one was killed or injured this time but I am told it could have been a different story altogether if the wind had been blowing in another direction.

“I have contacted Renfrewshire Council to make sure that everything possible is being done for those residents that had to be relocated. We need a long term solution to make sure local residents, businesses and Johnstone town centre are safe.

“Frankly, the operation at WRC recycling, I think, will continue to pose a hazard and the safety of my constituents is paramount. A full investigation is needed. I have now followed up my letter to the fire service to ask for a full report and also to SEPA to carry out its own investigation. We have to put the needs of local residents first.”

“My constituents need to be given a guarantee that they are living in a safe and secure environment and as long as this waste is being stored next to them I do not think they can be given that assurance.”

Giant bundles of plastic, packed for recycling, burned from around 5.30pm well into the night and nearby homes were evacuated.

The plant is close to the railway line between Johnstone Station and nearby Milliken Park and trains were prevented from travelling along the line.

At the height of the blaze, the sky was lit up by the flames and thick, choking smoke filled the air.