15 May 2018 by Elizabeth Slow

Fire ongoing at former Sunderland waste site

A fire which started yesterday at a scrapyard and waste site previously operated by waste management firm, Alex Smiles, in Deptford, Sunderland is ongoing.

Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service were made aware of the incident just before 6pm yesterday (14 May). It is expected that the fire will burn until Sunday.

The fire at the scrapyard previously operated by Alex Smiles in ongoing

Nine crews from various areas in Sunderland – Farringdon, West Denton, Washington, Gosforth, South Shields, Newcastle Central, Swalwell, Sunderland Central, Byker, Birtley, Hebburn, Rainton Bridge, Marley Park and Tynemouth – were deployed.

Two aerial ladder platforms and a high volume pump were used. 58 firefighters and 3 officers attended the scene.

Environment Agency

The Environment Agency is also on the scene. When contacted by letsrecycle.com, a spokesperson, said: “Environment Agency officers are on site working with partners to assess any potential environmental damage including impacts to air and water quality. Our incident room is open and we will continue to monitor the situation closely.

“The site was abandoned last year after the operator went into liquidation. Polluters are responsible for clearing waste and we are working with partners to find a solution as soon as possible.”

The Sunderland Echo reported that Stuart Smiles, who previously ran the waste management plant, said: “I would like to extend our thanks to the fire service, Environment Agency, emergency services and others in attendance.”

According to Companies House, Alex Smiles Ltd traded in the wholesale of waste and scrap. The company entered administration on 7 May 2015 with commencement of winding up on 31 August 2016.

The company has two active directors listed as John Smiles and Stuart Barry Smiles.


Mmh, let’s tell this as it is as the EA tries to wash it’s hands of responsibility again.

The EA as regulator allowed the problem to get out of control as the operator built the waste mountain. This happened three years ago not last year as the EA try to pass off in the article.

In the intervening period the council / EA tendered for the site clear up but sat on their hands while again pleading poverty over affording the clean up. Now the inevitable has happened and the site is a disaster zone with contaminated water running into the river,

Yes, ultimately the operator was responsible but until the EA feel some pain for their weak regulation of these events they will continue. The EA were slow to act, weak when they did and another operator walks away. How many more years will this business model continue?

Posted by Billy Bin on May 16, 2018

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