Stockpile may cause airport to evacuate

The tyre stockpile at Longford. Picture: Paul Scambler.

The tyre stockpile at Longford. Picture: Paul Scambler.

Launceston Airport could require evacuation if a stockpile of used tyres at Longford caught fire, a report found last year.

The Pitt and Sherry report, prepared for the Northern Midlands Council and submitted in mid 2015, found there was a high risk of interference with aircraft movements due to smoke if there was a fire. 

Northern Midlands mayor David Downie said that stockpiler Tyre Recycle Tasmania had met all fire safety requirements the report identified as needing attention.

“They’re in compliance and council’s officers are carrying out regular checks,” he said. “The council went very, very hard in making sure all those conditions were met to the letter.”

The council went very, very hard in making sure all those conditions were met to the letter. - David Downie

A 2016 environmental report received by the Environment Protection Authority found fire protection measures were implemented to manage the hazards associated with the site.

A fire emergency plan has been formed, the report for the EPA said.

The 2015 Pitt and Sherry report said fire safety measures, including fire water containment infrastructure, first attack fire fighting equipment and hydrant systems, were not then installed.

“I understand all that’s in place,” Cr Downie said on Saturday.

The report also warned a fire could contaminate surface water and soil, and expose the public to toxic fumes.

Tyre Recycle Tasmania has an application before the council to reduce and eventually remove the stockpile, estimated to number more than one million tyres, through a shredding facility. The plan is the latest solution proposed to dispose of the stockpile. 

The council has referred the proposal to the EPA for consideration but has not received a response. A December cut-off for delivery of more used tyres to the Longford stockpile is looming. Cr Downie said the wait was frustrating for all parties. 

“The whole thing is coming to a head and we’re reaching deadlines,” he said.

Comment was sought from Tyre Recycle Tasmania.

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