Local News

EQ Talks With State About Reopening in Apex

Posted January 18, 2007 5:08 p.m. EST
Updated January 18, 2007 6:12 p.m. EST

— Officials with a hazardous waste company met with state regulators Thursday to discuss reopening a site in Apex where a major chemical fire occurred last fall.

Managers with the North Carolina Division of Waste Management listened to proposals from Environmental Quality Industrial Services as part of a decision process into whether to allow the company to rebuild.

An Oct. 5 fire at EQ's Apex facility prompted local officials to order about 17,000 residents to evacuate their homes. The evacuation order remained in place for more than a day until the fire burned itself out.

Inspectors said improperly stored chemicals likely sparked the fire. State testing has found no short- or long-term health threats from the incident.

Still, Apex officials have vowed to block any effort by EQ to resume operations in town. They said zoning and town ordinances changed back in 2000, which should prohibit the company from returning.

"I think it would be frustrating to our citizens to know that there may be that issue still out there. It's a settled issue as far as the town of Apex is concerned," Apex Mayor Keith Weatherly said.

An EQ spokeswoman said the company has made no final decisions, but officials are exploring the option of resuming at least non-hazardous waste disposal in Apex.

"We would resist any attempt to resume any of their operations anywhere in Apex, hazardous or non-hazardous," Weatherly said.

EQ previously collected some hazardous material, like pesticides and biological waste, from businesses and repackaged it for disposal. A proposal for a non-hazardous site would include disposing of things like paint.

"It's prudent for us to scrutinize all the elements of the issue and make a very careful decision, and that's what we're doing right now," said Kathy Akroyd, spokeswoman for the state Division of Waste Management. "We're not under any time pressure, so when we have gone through things as we should, then we'll have an answer."