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Staples’ Corner fire: Welsh Harp contamination fears spark investigation

PUBLISHED: 11:12 17 January 2018 | UPDATED: 11:12 17 January 2018

Enviroment agency officers cleaning up Welsh Harp after the blaze in Staple's Corner (Picture: @EnvAgencySE)

Enviroment agency officers cleaning up Welsh Harp after the blaze in Staple's Corner (Picture: @EnvAgencySE)

Archant

Environmental officers are investigating whether leaking paint during a devastating factory blaze has contaminated the Welsh Harp reservoir.

Verified image taken from the Twitter account of Shulem Stern, people gather to watch as a pall of smoke rises into the sky as a large fire engulfs a roadway in  Staples Corner  (Shulem Stern via AP) Verified image taken from the Twitter account of Shulem Stern, people gather to watch as a pall of smoke rises into the sky as a large fire engulfs a roadway in Staples Corner (Shulem Stern via AP)

About 100 firefighters and 15 fire engines tackled the inferno that completely destroyed the Rustins Paint factory in Waterloo Road, Staples Corner, on January 8.

The London Fire Brigade (LFB) has been roundly praised by residents in tackling the blaze which broke out around 9.20pm.

It is the second time the paint factory has burnt to the ground. It was rebuilt after a blaze tore through the whole of Staples Corner in 2004, very close to the Brent Reservoir, known locally as Welsh Harp.

But concerns about potential contamination has sparked an investigation by the Environment Agency.

Alison Hopkins, former Liberal Democrat councillor for Dollis Hill, said there was fear amongst residents of paint and chemical contamination in the reservoir.

She said: “The worst impact is that a lot of paint and muck was running into the surface water drains and hence, into the Welsh Harp. The ecosystem will recover, but it will take a fair while to do so, and I think many fish will die as they did in a similar blaze in 2004.”

She added: “The firefighters had the fire out very quickly. It could have been so much worse. They did an amazing job.”

Firefighters removed 50, 100 gallon drums of thinners and solvents, which they said “massively reduced” the impact of the blaze and stopped it spreading further.

An LFB spokesman said: “Fire officers contacted the Environment Agency on the night of the fire to highlight how close the Brent Reservoir (Welsh Harp) was in relation to the paint factory fire in Staples Corner.

“Firefighters put in place measures to help contain fire water including using sandbags to create a dam around drains. The brigade worked with Environment Agency officers to limit the effect of the fire on the nearby reservoir.”

A spokesman for the Environment Agency said officers were continuing with investigations of the incident and assisting with the clear up.

He added: “Agency officers put booms in the River Brent to prevent any contaminated surface water from entering the reservoir. We have arranged tankers to help clear up the surface water sewers.

“We have not currently found any impacts on the local Welsh Harp SSSI, but we will continue to monitor the situation closely.”

Please report any pollution incidents to 0800 807 060.

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