Bob's Links and Rants

Welcome to my rants page! You can contact me by e-mail: Blog roll. Site feed.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Serial chemical fire company

The chemical fire which has caused a North Carolina town to be evacuated is happening at a plant owned by EQ Industrial Services. AP:
EQ spokesman Robert Doyle said the Wayne, Mich.-based company was mobilizing its emergency response team to help with the clean up. About 25 employees work at the Apex plant, but all had left the building by 7 p.m. Thursday, he said.

"Because of the many different types of waste that we bring in, it's very difficult to determine the cause of the fire," he said.

In March, the state Department of Natural Resources had fined EQ $32,000 for six violations at the plant, including failing to "maintain and operate the facility to minimize the possibility of a sudden or non-sudden release of hazardous waste ... which could threaten human health or the environment." But Doyle cautioned that the violations might not have had anything to do with the fire.

"That could range from anything--like a spill of materials that could get in a storm drain," he said. "It could be completely unrelated to something like a fire or explosion."
What Mr. Doyle is hinting at here is that there are a lot more dangers in their facilities than what the inspectors catch. It is also indicative of his concern for safety that he apparently has no idea why the they were fined by the state. Probably fired the in-house safety guy to pay for the fine.

And dangerous chemical fires are nothing new for EQ--their Romulus, Michigan plant had a major fire in August, 2005. I wonder if the Apex residents were even aware of the Romulus fire. Of course, in today's globalized capitalist environment, states and municipalities are so desperate to get and keep employers that they'll accept almost any type of facility in their neighborhood.

Here's what EQ says it does:
Our comprehensive line of hazardous and industrial waste management, transportation, industrial cleaning, remediation, recycling and specialized, on-site services is based on continuous innovation and new applications of current technologies.
In addition to North Carolina and Michigan, EQ has facilities in Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Massachusetts, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Utah.

By the way, Apex Mayor Keith Weatherly is counting on rain to help:
Weatherly said the "prognosis from the rain is an optimistic one as far as clearing the air. And then we'll wait for the [hazardous materials response] team to give us an assessment of the site itself."
I wonder how that jives with what city manager Bruce Radford is quoted as saying elsewhere in the same article:
Officials are letting the fire burn itself out to avoid toxic runoff and the threat to firefighters. "Water would flood the area with toxic chemicals," Radford said. "It just needs to burn up."
It sounds like rain will just change an air-pollution catastrophe into a water-pollution catastrophe.

In a just world, corporations like EQ would be shut down, with their stockholders getting nothing for their shares. In this world--probably another $32,000 fine, if that.