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Risk of spontaneous fires at temporary storages sites for organic material, waste fuels and recyclables: Quantification and mitigation
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Department of Biology and Environmental Science. Pakistan Institute of Engineering and Applied Sciences. (Environmental Science and Engineering Group)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-0021-5971
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Economic and environmental constraints have created increasing demand for (material and energy recovery) and recycling of waste generated from households, commercial and industrial activities. A wide variety of materials waiting for sorting, recovery, recycling and disposal are stored at temporary storage sites (TSS) where physical, biotic and abiotic processes can lead the stored material to spontaneous ignition. Spontaneous fires at TSS are associated with severe social health economic and environmental implications.

The objective of the present thesis was to access, quantify and mitigate the risk of spontaneous fires at temporary storage sites. It was found that during the period from 2000 to 2010, spontaneous fires have caused losses of about 49 million SEK (about 5 million Euros) to the Swedish waste and recycling industry. A comparison of two groups of waste operators (non-seasonal storage sites at private companies and seasonal storage sites at municipality owned companies) showed that the number of fire incidents per storage site was higher for the former one.

Furthermore, it was found that there is a need to improve the behavior of environmental managers related to safety issues as a group of managers was found to be under the influence of optimism, attribution and availability biases. The managers under the influence of optimism bias preferred to follow low cost risk averting strategies and fire incidents were more frequently reported at their storage sites.

The ArcGIS spatial analysis using Boolean and Weighted Linear Combination approach and open burn/open detonation model was used to provide the screening level guidelines for siting new storage sites with a due consideration given to potential off-site consequences of spontaneous fires on downwind population. Furthermore, experiments were conducted to investigate the combustion characteristics of MSW bales. The data suggested that the unwrapped bales might pose higher hazards for adjacently stored material to catch fire than bales wrapped with low density polyethylene (LDPE) plastic sheets. For future, interdisciplinary research with focus on technical solutions (e.g. development of performance based design using fire simulations and methods for early detection and extinction of fires) and economic, political and organizational solutions that ensure risk of spontaneous fires not to be trivialized is recommended.

Keywords: temporary storage, risk of fires, spontaneous ignition, biofuels, recyclables, waste fuels

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Växjö: Linnaeus University Press, 2014. , p. 82
Series
Linnaeus University Dissertations ; 160/2014
Keywords [en]
temporary storage, risk of fires, spontaneous ignition, biofuels, recyclables, waste fuels
National Category
Environmental Management
Research subject
Natural Science, Environmental Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-31583ISBN: 978-91-87427-71-8 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-31583DiVA, id: diva2:689961
Public defence
2014-02-28, Fullriggaren (B-135), Landgången 3, Kalmar, 09:30 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2014-02-25 Created: 2014-01-22 Last updated: 2014-05-09Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Fires at storage sites of organic materials, waste fuels and recyclables
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Fires at storage sites of organic materials, waste fuels and recyclables
2013 (English)In: Waste Management & Research, ISSN 0734-242X, E-ISSN 1096-3669, Vol. 31, no 9, p. 937-945Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

During the last decade, the European Union has enforced the diversion of organic wastes and recyclables to waste management companies operating incineration plants, composting plants and recycling units instead of landfills. The temporary storage sites have been established as a buffer against fluctuations in energy demand throughout the year. Materials also need to be stored at temporary storage sites before recovery and recycling. However, regulations governing waste fuel storage and handling have not yet been developed, and, as a result, companies have engaged in risky practices that have resulted in a high number of fire incidents. In this study, a questionnaire survey was distributed to 249 of the 400 members of Avfall Sverige (Swedish Waste Management Association), which represents the waste management of 95% of the Swedish population. Information regarding 122 storage facilities owned by 69 companies was obtained; these facilities were responsible for the storage of 47% of the total treated waste (incineration + digestion + composting) in 2010 in Sweden. To identify factors related to fire frequency, the questionnaire covered the amounts of material handled and burnt per year, financial losses due to fires, storage duration, storage method and types of waste. The results show that 217 fire incidents corresponded to 170 kilotonnes of material burnt and cumulative losses of 49 million SEK (€4.3 million). Fire frequency and amount of material burnt per fire was found to be dependent upon type of management group (waste operator). Moreover, a correlation was found between fire frequency and material recycled during past years. Further investigations of financial aspects and externalities of fire incidents are recommended.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sage Publications, 2013
Keywords
Municipal solid waste, organic materials, self-ignition, fires at storage sites, solid waste fuels, recyclables
National Category
Environmental Management
Research subject
Natural Science, Environmental Science; Environmental Science, Environmental technology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-28661 (URN)10.1177/0734242X13487581 (DOI)000324038200008 ()2-s2.0-84883716344 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2013-09-04 Created: 2013-09-04 Last updated: 2018-05-16Bibliographically approved
2. Perception of fire-risk at temporary storage sites of organic materials, waste fuels and recyclables
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Perception of fire-risk at temporary storage sites of organic materials, waste fuels and recyclables
2014 (English)In: International Journal of Environment and Waste Management, ISSN 1478-9876, E-ISSN 1478-9868, no 2, p. 165-180Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The risk of fires at municipal solid waste (MSW) storage sites is of great concern because such fires not only result in material losses worth millions of Euros annually but also have deleterious effects on both human health and the environment. Keeping in view that management decisions addressing risk of fires cannot be divorced from human psychology regarding safety, a questionnaire survey was designed for which 187 respondents gave a response rate of 33%. Survey results showed that three types of biases; optimism, attribution and availability bias, prevail among managers of waste management companies. Furthermore, biased respondents had experienced higher frequency of fire incidents and preferred low cost risk averting technologies. It is concluded that there is a need to acknowledge the existence of biases and to improve the decision making skills of managers with the help of risk awareness programmes and implementation of government steering tools to reduce risk of spontaneous fires.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
InderScience Publishers, 2014
National Category
Environmental Management
Research subject
Natural Science, Environmental Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-30881 (URN)10.1504/IJEWM.2014.064085 (DOI)2-s2.0-84905590559 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2013-12-03 Created: 2013-12-03 Last updated: 2018-05-16Bibliographically approved
3. Characterization of municipal solid waste temporary storage sites: Risks posed to surrounding areas as a consequence of fire incidents
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Characterization of municipal solid waste temporary storage sites: Risks posed to surrounding areas as a consequence of fire incidents
Show others...
2013 (English)In: Waste Management, ISSN 0956-053X, E-ISSN 1879-2456, Vol. 33, no 11, p. 2296-2306Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In this study temporary storage sites of municipal solid waste were characterized based on their potential social, health and environmental impacts as a consequence of spontaneous fires, by employing Boolean as well as weighted-linear-combination approaches in connection with various fuzzy set functions of population density around the storage sites. Sweden was used as the case study and data from 105 storage sites were analysed; of these, 38 were identified to be posing high risk for downwind residing population. Furthermore, during the past 10 years, the fire frequency and the average population residing within a radius of 1, 2, and 3 km were found to be comparatively higher for storage sites owned by private ompanies than for those owned by municipalities. The study provided first-cut information of poorly sited temporary storage sites and can help in formalizing the comprehensive risk analysis in the future.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2013
Keywords
Organic materials, Recyclables, Municipal solid waste, Temporary storage sites, Risk of fires, Weighted linear combination, Risk analysis
National Category
Environmental Management Other Environmental Engineering
Research subject
Natural Science, Environmental Science; Environmental Science, Environmental technology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-28664 (URN)10.1016/j.wasman.2013.08.003 (DOI)000326061300019 ()2-s2.0-84885177317 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2013-09-04 Created: 2013-09-04 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved
4. Organizing preliminary storage sites of organic material, waste fuels and recyclables and their separating distance from populated areas
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Organizing preliminary storage sites of organic material, waste fuels and recyclables and their separating distance from populated areas
2014 (English)In: Journal of Material Cycles and Waste Management, ISSN 1438-4957, E-ISSN 1611-8227, Vol. 16, no 2, p. 270-281Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

European Union directives have urged member countries to enhance the recycling and separation of waste fractions, and this has increased the number of temporary storage sites of recyclables and waste fuels. Spontaneous fires at temporary storage sites have become common and pose social/health/environmental risks. Storage sites should be sited sufficiently far from populated regions, so that the concentration of released pollutants from open fires falls below the critical air quality index before the plume reach the downwind population. In this study, the open-burn/ open-detonation model developed by the US Environmental Protection Agency was employed, and 540 simulations were performed for nine scenarios of open burning of household waste to estimate suitable sizes of storage heaps and adequate distances between storage sites and populated regions. Furthermore, sensitivity analysis was performed for 1,080 additional simulations to determine the effects of variations in the burn rate, storage dimension and volume of the waste heap on the model output. The resulting chart can be directly employed by waste operators/ environmental agencies to organize storage sites to minimize externalities due to open fires. Furthermore, using ArcGIS software, first-cut information of the total Swedish population facing the risk of hazards due to spontaneous fires was provided.

Keywords
Temporary storage, Risk of fires, Externalities of open fires, Organic materials, Solid waste fuels
National Category
Environmental Management Other Environmental Engineering
Research subject
Environmental Science, Environmental technology; Natural Science, Environmental Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-28663 (URN)10.1007/s10163-013-0184-z (DOI)000334183800009 ()2-s2.0-84897579667 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2013-09-04 Created: 2013-09-04 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved
5. Combustion Characteristics of Municipal Solid Waste Bales
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Combustion Characteristics of Municipal Solid Waste Bales
Show others...
2015 (English)In: Fire technology, ISSN 0015-2684, E-ISSN 1572-8099, Vol. 5, no 1, p. 109-127Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Combustion behaviour of municipal solid waste bales is a rarely studied topic hitherto. However, there is dire need to devote research on the topic because baling as a storage methodology is getting popular among waste management companies and fire episodes in such storage sites can have devastating economic, environmental and social implications. In this study, thickness of low density polyethylene (LDPE) plastic sheets (12 layers, 6 layers and no layer) and type of ignition source (pilot ignition, thermal radiation) were investigated to see their effect on combustion behaviour of bales. In total eleven tests with a single bale in each test were performed. It has been found that the bales not wrapped with LDPE plastic sheets may pose higher hazards for adjacently stored material to catch fire as the value of maximum heat release rate observed for them was higher than those wrapped with LDPE plastic sheets. Furthermore, it has been found that LDPE plastic wrapping do not contribute significantly to the combustion of bales when exposed only to thermal radiation from an adjacent fire. However, it plays a significant role in ignition of bales in case exposed to a pilot flame ignition source. Molten LDPE plastic trapped between the adjacently stored bales was found to be another important factor influencing the combustion of bales.

National Category
Environmental Sciences
Research subject
Environmental Science, Environmental technology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-30878 (URN)10.1007/s10694-013-0362-5 (DOI)000348185900009 ()2-s2.0-84921698977 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2013-12-03 Created: 2013-12-03 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved

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Ibrahim, Muhammad Asim

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