Local News

EQ: No Contamination Found at Apex Fire Site

Posted March 30, 2007 3:16 p.m. EDT
Updated March 31, 2007 1:14 p.m. EDT

— A state-required investigation has determined there to be no contamination at the site of chemical fire that forced thousands of Apex residents from their homes in the middle of the night.

Environmental Quality Industrial Services says the report detailing the investigation is consistent with more than 2 million air, soil, surface and ground water samples that the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources collected in and around homes and buildings near the site. All the tests came back negative, EQ said.

North Carolina's Division of Waste Management, however, must study the report to make that final determination. It could come within the next month, waste management spokeswoman Cathy Akroyd said.

The waste management division requires companies to conduct post-incident site investigations, Akroyd said, and they are a standard procedure for incidents like the EQ fire.

The hazardous-waste transfer facility caught fire on Oct. 5, prompting as many as 17,000 people to leave their homes for two nights because town officials did not know what was burning.

“We hope this report will calm fears and bring closure to the concerns of the community," said Scott Maris, vice president of regulatory affairs for EQ.

Apex Mayor Keith Weatherly told WRAL on Friday that the report is good news for the town but still agrees with the DENR's proposed termination of EQ's permit allowing it to operate with hazardous materials at that location.

The company has not decided whether it will reopen the facility, but Apex officials have been adamant in opposing any reopening.

On Oct. 25, the DENR suspended EQ's permit-to-operate because the site was considered an imminent hazard. Earlier this month, DENR levied a $553,440 fine against the company.

"The Division of Waste Management stands behind both the proposed permit termination and penalty issued against the EQ Apex facility earlier this month based on violations of the hazardous-waste management regulations," Liz Cannon, hazardous waste section chief with the Division of Waste Management, said Friday. "We have received no information that would cause us to reconsider either of our actions."

According to DENR’s, “Hazardous Waste Section Civil Penalty Assessments,” from 1999 to 2007, no other permits have been revoked and the largest penalty assessed was $159,997 for nine serious violations at another facility in North Carolina.