CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The property owner in a Parkersburg warehouse fire that burned more than a week still has not sufficiently complied with an order to detail exactly what materials were stored at the site.
Representatives of Intercontinental Export Import, Inc. submitted records by email on Sunday and in person on Monday, according to Lawrence Messina, spokesman for the state Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety. Messina has been serving as the spokesman for the emergency operations center reacting to the Parkersburg fire.
“WV DEP has concluded that these records do not sufficiently satisfy the Order for Compliance, and specifically its directive requiring detailed inventory of all materials that were burned at the site,” Messina stated in an update about the fire investigation.
The 420,000 square feet of property, which was storing recyclable plastics for a small business, caught fire early Oct. 21 and burned for the next eight days, sending a plume of smoke billowing over the city and across the Ohio border.
On Thursday, The DEP issued an order to Intercontinental Export Import, Inc., demanding immediate information about what materials were stored on the property. DEP is also demanding to know how IEI plans to properly dispose of the material.
“The local, county and state officials involved in the response absolutely recognize that the public has legitimate and understandable questions regarding the contents of the site (nature and quantity) at the time of the fire,” Messina stated.
“Mindful of the speculation spurred by inaccurate and incomplete information, Incident Command can release the detailed inventory or the warehouse’s contents once IEI provides a list that meets the requirement stated in the Order for Compliance.”
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency plans to collect ash samples from the site, with permission from the property owner
During a news conference last week, state and local officials again said the owners of the property had told them the best information about the material in the warehouse was on paperwork that burned up in the fire.
Wood County Commission President Blair Couch said the owners provided a Material Safety Data Sheet in a three-ring binder, but it wasn’t current.
“And so we did a leaf-through with that with some industry experts,” Couch said last Wednesday. “We compiled a short list on it. We had further discussion. They said not all of it was there.”
IEI operates several warehouses in the Parkersburg area, including the one that has been burning. Inspectors know the warehouses contain materials in the form of pellets, flake, strand, beads, granules and resins — but not specifically what was in the plant when the fire started.
The fire was declared extinguished at midday Sunday and local officials then watched the property for any flare-ups.
“The cool-down period concluded at noon today without any signs of flare-ups or other incidents; the cool-down was extended to the full 48 hours to ensure a comprehensive monitoring of the site,” Messina stated.
A contractor that was retained, Specialized Professional Services, Inc. has concluded the work it has conducted for Wood County officials, Messina said.
Messina noted that the owner must still comply with the aspect of the compliance order that specifically requires an approved Plan of Corrective Action that includes proof of proper disposal of burned material.
As of this morning, the owner of the site had not indicated that SPSI would be retained to assist with the mandated site cleanup and debris removal.
Messina said an investigation by the State Fire Marshal remains ongoing and will not be affected by turning over the property to the owner.
Officials have also been inspecting other, related properties under the same ownership. The State Fire Marshal’s Office inspected an IEI-affiliated property on Thursday and three more on Friday.
As indicated by the Incident Commander, Lubeck Fire Chief Mark Stewart, at least one of those inspections revealed potential fire code violations. However, the State Fire Marshal will release final results from these inspections only when they are completed and assessed, Messina said.
The State Fire Marshal’s Office stresses that these inspections have so far yielded no signs of imminent danger. The State Fire Marshal’s Office is scheduling inspections for the remaining IEI-associated properties.
“As there are ongoing investigations, Incident Command will release accurate and sufficiently complete information in coordination with the Wood County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office,” Messina stated.
The Homeland Security and Emergency Response section of state DEP conducted air monitoring through Monday morning, and will post those results as it has for all previous monitoring, he said.
Water test results continue to be received by the state Department of Health and Human Resources , the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission, the W.Va. American Water Co., OhioEPA and Cincinnati Water. The Ohio River results are encouraging that downstream water systems will not be affected by the fire, he said.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention contacted Wood County officials at the request of US EPA to offer assistance. “Local, county and state officials will now coordinate to make the most of this helpful offer,” Messina stated.