Crews still tackling fire at Suez’s Aberdeen MRF

An ongoing “significant” fire at Suez’s £27 million materials recycling facility (MRF) in Aberdeen reignited on Saturday, after seeming to have been extinguished by the fire service the night before.

Scottish Fire & Rescue Service says it sent nine engines and “a number of specialist resources” to the Altens East MRF at 4.37pm on Friday (8 July) following reports that a fire had taken hold in a “large area of mixed waste”.

A number of local authorities including Aberdeen, Angus and Highland councils send material to the plant – waste and recycling collections in Aberdeen have been suspended.

A spokesperson for the fire service confirmed to letsrecycle.com that it appeared the fire had been extinguished on Friday evening before it “reignited” the next day.

The nine fire engines and a special height vehicle tackled the blaze throughout Saturday, before the fire service scaled down its efforts to three engines and a high-volume water pump on Sunday.

Deputy assistant chief officer Stephen Wood is the Scottish Fire & Rescue Service’s head of service delivery for the North of Scotland. He told letsrecycle.com: “Due to the nature of this significant incident, firefighters have been in attendance at the scene over the weekend.

“We currently have two fire appliances and two specialist resources in attendance today, where firefighters are working to dampen down remaining hotspots and make the area safe.”

The fire’s cause remains unknown and Suez said that no-one had been injured.


In a statement, John Wilkinson, regional director for Suez recycling and recovery UK, said: “With the facility out of action, we have been working over the weekend to put in place alternative arrangements for Aberdeen’s household waste and recycling in order to minimise disruption to householders – although suspended today, collections are due to resume tomorrow, with Saturday collections taking place to catch up on today’s rounds.

We have been working over the weekend to put in place alternative arrangements for Aberdeen’s household waste and recycling
– John Wilkinson, Suez

“When the fire has been dealt with, we will be able to assess the full extent of the damage and there will be an investigation into the cause.

“I would like to thank the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service for their continued efforts to manage the fire and apologise for the disruption to our neighbours and the local community.”

Aberdeen city council apologised for the “inconvenience”. It said in a statement: “There will be no waste collection today. This includes refuse, recycling, brown bins and trade waste. Collections will be rescheduled for Saturday.”

The fire is expected to also affect Angus residents, whose recycling is sent under contract to the MRF (see letsrecycle.com story).

Altens East

Suez officially opened the Altens East MRF in Aberdeen in October 2017 (see letsrecycle.com story). It was equipped by BHS.

(l to r): Aberdeen’s Cllr Jenny Laing and David Palmer-Jones, then Suez CEO, at the official opening of the Altens East MRF in 2017

Dry mixed recyclables collected from homes and businesses are sorted at the facility, before being sold as materials for reprocessing.

The facility is capable of processing 20 tonnes of mixed recycling, including glass, cardboard, newspaper, plastics, and metals, an hour.

In June, Aberdeen council agreed to extend its waste management contract with Suez by more than three years, which will now see the deal run until 2029 (see letsrecycle.com story).

Water supply

On Friday, Scottish Water said it was aware of reports that water supplies in the Cove Bay area were affected by efforts to tackle the fire. It tweeted: “As the hydrants are in use, this is causing no water, low pressure and discoloured water to the surrounding streets.”

Deputy assistant chief officer Wood added: “While the fire was contained to within the recycling centre, we know there has been an impact on local residents, in terms of some wide-spread smoke and a reduced water supply.

“I would like to thank them for their patience and understanding as we work to extinguish it as quickly and safely as possible.”

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