Local News

Public Hearing to Focus on EQ's Future in Apex

Posted April 12, 2007 8:06 a.m. EDT

— State regulators will host a public hearing Thursday night as they consider revoking the operating permit of a hazardous waste operation involved in a massive chemical fire six months ago.

The Apex facility of Michigan-based Environmental Quality Industrial Services erupted in flames on Oct. 5, sending a plume of smoke across town. Officials called for the evacuation of about 17,000 Apex residents, fearing that toxic chemicals were in the plume.

Residents were allowed to return home a day later -- after the fire had burned itself out -- and subsequent state tests showed no immediate or long-term health threats.

Because the EQ facility was destroyed, authorities haven't been able to pinpont the cause of the fire, but they have said they believe chemicals were improperly stored at the site.

The state Division of Waste Management fined EQ $553,225 last month, citing previous problems with chemical releases and smaller fires at the Apex site that were never reported to state or local officials.

State regulators also put the company on notice that it intended to revoke its hazardous waste permit, which would shutter the site permanently.

The public hearing, set for 7 p.m. at Apex Town Hall, is part of the revocation process. People will have up to five minutes each to state their opinions about whether EQ should be allowed to continue operating in town.

EQ officials have expressed a desire to reopen the site. Apex officials have vowed to fight the company's efforts.