Hazardous waste found at dump blaze site

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Hazardous waste has been found at the recycling site where a large fire blazed over the weekend in Jūrmala, reported LSM's Latvian-language service on June 21.

The State Environmental Service on June 21 found hazardous waste including discarded batteries, spray cans, and electrical wiring at the site where a blaze raged for more than sixty hours before being fully extinguished involving more than 50 firemen as well as a fire-fighting train and an army helicopter.

The service will collect nearby water samples to analyze for toxicity. 

In light of the findings, Environment Minister Kaspars Gerhards said the people responsible for storing the waste there are facing criminal responsibility. 

It has also emerged that about 40% of the waste on the site had been consumed by the blaze. Judging from the plastic wrappings, some of it had been brought in from Sweden.

While no-one was hurt locals reportedly suffered throat pain and were urged to shut their windows by the State Environmental Service. Local commuter trains were cancelled as well due to the fire that started shortly before 4 p.m. on June 18.

By 6 a.m. on June 19 the State Fire and Rescue Service (VUGD) said they had localized what was estimated to be a 12,000 square meter fire, though it was still burning. The large scale of the blaze and its awkward location made getting sufficient water to the site a challenge, VUGD told the press.

The environmental service later claimed that Prima M, the company operating the dump did not have the necessary permits and described the place as an unlicensed waste dump. 

Findings by the service contradict the company which said earlier that the territory was used to store recyclable materials such as sorted polymers, and claimed that under the European law permission for sorting and storage of recyclable materials is not required.

The company suspects arson to be the cause of the fire.

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