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Apex Residents Not Pleased With EQ's Rebuilding Plans

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APEX, N.C. — Environmental Quality Industrial Services hopes to rebuild its facility on the Apex site of last week's fire. Nearby residents said they hope that won't happen.

"It's too dangerous. Too many kids around and there are residences so close to there," said Apex resident Jennifer Corson.

Some neighborhoods around EQ were built before the plant, while others were developed afterward. There's also a new community under construction with several hundred homes not far away.

Some Apex leaders said they believe the town is growing and the Investment Boulevard site is no longer a good place for a hazardous waste company to do business.

At a press conference Monday, a company official said EQ wants to stay.

"I think we have good relations despite the trouble, and we hope to rebuild," said EQ spokesman Scott Marris.

Pressure is mounting against such a plan, and not just from residents. Apex Council Member Bill Jensen said he didn't even know the facility that handles of hazardous waste existed in the town's downtown area.

"A facility like this is necessary. We all use chemicals, but it should be built in a more sparsely populated area," Jensen said. "I don't think they should rebuild."

Jensen said there are questions whether new zoning laws passed in late 2003 would prevent EQ from rebuilding on the site. The town's staff is also looking to see if the company would be grandfathered in. The fire collapsed a storage building but did not harm an office structure.

Apex Mayor Keith Weatherly said that based on the company's recent track record, the town would put EQ through the most critical review possible if the company rebuilds. Jensen agreed, saying the town would crack down on a new facility.

"It would be a bunker like Fort Knox," Jensen said. "We would require, I'm sure, very stringent changes because life has changed around that place."

Right now, EQ contributes more than $400,000 to the Apex tax base. As the town and EQ work on the future, Apex Town Manager Bruce Radford would not say whether he considers the company a good corporate citizen.

"That's not my call to make," Radford said. "That's just not what I do. We are there to provide services as we are to everybody else, and that's what we are doing."

The town is expected to discuss zoning laws and the possibility of the facility's rebuilding at a town council meeting Tuesday.


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