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Apex Residents Pleased With EQ's Fine

The state Division of Waste Management fined Environmental Quality more than $553,000 in connection with the explosion and fire in Apex. The state also plans to shut down the facility by pulling its hazardous waste permit.

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APEX, N.C. — The state Tuesday fined the operators of the EQ Industrial Services facility in Apex $553,225 in connection with violations before a fire last fall that forced thousands to evacuate.

The state Division of Waste Management said the company did not report incidents involving chemical reactions, fires and waste releases before the Oct. 5 explosion and fire. The state also plans to terminate the company’s permit, which would prevent the facility from reopening if the company decides to do that.

Tuesday evening, several Apex residents, including Mayor Keith Weatherly, said they'd like to see the state carry out its plan and EQ never return.

Some residents say that a half-million-dollar fine is not enough for a night they’ll never forget.

"That's a one-time experience. I don't think a chemical plant blows up near your house everyday," said Jared Gritz.

"When I told people where we were from, they said, ‘Oh, your town blew up, didn't it?’" Lisa Leonard said.

"I don't think there is a dollar amount that you can put on that,” Leonard said. “I would like to see them gone."

"We don't need a chemical plant of any kind like that close to people living. I'm hoping that they won't come back to Apex. I'm hoping that maybe the state will not let them do business in North Carolina," said Wade Baker.

Apex Mayor Keith Weatherly shares the sentiment.

"The sense of well-being was disrupted from our community for a while and probably won’t be fully restored until this issue is resolved that EQ will not resume its activities in the town of Apex,” Weatherly said.

EQ officials have said that they want to rebuild in Apex, but town leaders have said they would try to block any such moves. The company has 60 days to contest the fine.

“We are surprised that (the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources) has elected to move forward with its effort to terminate our hazardous waste permit despite the fact their own data shows no environmental impact,” EQ Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Scott Maris said in a statement.

A public hearing on the proposal is scheduled for 7 p.m. April 12 at Apex Town Hall. People also can file comments with the state on the proposal until April 23.