A large industrial fire at a federal Superfund site in central Tennessee was about 95 percent contained by Thursday evening, a day and a half after it started, reports The Associated Press.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency On-Scene Coordinator Kevin Eichinger said in a phone interview that officials were continuing to monitor air quality around the site in rural Hickman County, about 45 miles southwest of Nashville.
The company experienced another large fire in December 2007. According to reports from the time in the Hickman County Times, that fire started with a large stove used to help pulverize plastic airplane windows and turn them into plastic pellets. Newspaper Editor Brad Martin said the 2007 fire consumed six tractor-trailer loads of the windows and shot flames 60 feet into the air.
Jimmy Vest, who lives about 3 miles from the site, said in a phone interview that the fire produced a cloud of black smoke that blocked out the sun and a strong smell of burning plastic.
He said ash pieces larger than his hand were falling from the sky into his yard.
“It looks like parts of boxes and plastic,” he said. “It’s weird. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Eichinger said state and federal environmental officials will determine what needs to be done to clean up the site after the fire is out. He said efforts are being made to prevent toxic runoff into nearby Mill Creek, including installing silt fencing.
Eichinger said fire investigators had not yet begun determining the cause of the blaze.
Federal Superfund sites were created to clean up areas that contain hazardous toxic waste. The EPA website said the former Wrigley Charcoal Plant, located northwest of Highway 100, was placed on the National Priorities List in 1989 because of contaminated debris, ground water and soil in the county of about 24,000. The Superfund area includes a 35-acre primary site and surrounding areas comprising about 300 acres.
According to the EPA website, the Superfund site was home to various industrial operations, including iron, charcoal and wood distillation product manufacturing, beginning in 1880. Contaminants of concern at the site include wood tar chemicals, metals and volatile organic compounds.