'It should be dug out': Health concerns raised by neighbours of Rainham ex-landfill plagued by fires

Firefighters tackled a blaze at a landfill in Launders Lane, Rainham today (April 23). Picture: Lond

Firefighters tackled a blaze at Launders Lane in Rainham on April 23 this year - Credit: London Fire Brigade

Neighbours of a Rainham ex-landfill site plagued by repeated fires are worried about the health implications of "thick smoke" wafting into their homes. 

The London Fire Brigade (LFB) recently revealed it had been called to more than 70 fires at former landfill site Arnolds Field on Launders Lane in the last four years, caused by a build-up of heat from rubbish dumped at the site.

Although LFB's Havering Cmdr Paul McClenaghan assured residents it will continue to fight the blazes, people living nearby have told this paper they are worried about what is burning.

Leader of Havering Council Ray Morgon said an enforcement notice remains in place at the site and air monitors nearby have not raised "substantial concerns".

However, a 36-year-old mum-of-two who lives behind the dumping ground and wishes not to be named said she has taken her nine-year-old daughter to the doctors with “chest infections, breathing troubles and sinus problems”.  

"Our doctor is now running tests on my daughter to see if it’s poor air quality and toxins that are causing her problems," she said.

“It stinks and we don’t know if it’s pollen or the smoke from the fire, but if it’s alight it’s hard to breathe and your throat becomes so dry,” she added.

She said she has been complaining about the site for years.  

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A spokesperson for the Environment Agency said it doesn't regulate the site, claiming it falls under the responsibility of Havering Council because "it is not an active waste site”.  

It said, because of this, it could not provide any information about the toxicity of fumes from the former landfill.  

Another resident, a 70-year-old who lives near the former landfill site and also wishes not to be named, said she is unable to open her windows or hang her washing out due to the “thick smoke”.  

She said: “You can’t describe the smell, but it’s really horrible, and if you get a big load of it, it makes you cough.”  

Her and her husband, she added, are often awoken as early as 4am by the smell and brightness of the fires. 

“Whatever is in that landfill site should be dug out.”  

Cllr Morgon said: "We continue to work with the LFB and the Environment Agency to monitor the site and we are in contact with the site owner about their future intentions for the land.

"An enforcement notice remains in place."