Ten days since an industrial fire began in Parkersburg, public officials have yet to be provided an accurate inventory of what was on the property when the fire began. The fire at an old Ames plant -- now a recycled plastics warehouse owned by Intercontinental Export Import, Inc. -- was declared extinguished around noon Sunday.
On Thursday, October 26, the West Department of Environmental Protection handed down an Order for Compliance to property owner Intercontinental Export Import, Inc. In addition to calling for an immediate inventory of the warehouse’s contents when the fire began, that document requires IEI to submit an approved Plan of Corrective Action, which includes proof of proper disposal of burned material.
As previously reported, IEI company representatives submitted information via email on Sunday and other documentation during an in-person meeting Monday with state, county and local officials who have been responding to the incident.
State Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety spokesman Larry Messina wrote in a Tuesday evening email that the DEP has concluded that records submitted Sunday and Monday “do not sufficiently satisfy the Order for Compliance, and specifically its directive requiring detailed inventory of all materials that were burned at the site.”
Because of the lack of verified inventory, Messina acknowledged ongoing concern for public safety in the email.
“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,” wrote Messina.
“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,” he added.
Incident Command is expected to release information regarding the warehouse’s inventory in coordination with the Wood County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office when it is deemed “accurate and sufficiently complete,” according to Messina.
Emergency response teams from DEP conducted air monitoring through Monday morning. Privately contracted environmental consultants, Center for Toxicology & Environmental Health, finished up air monitoring on Sunday. Results from DEP, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and CTEH indicate no threat to air quality, according to the DEP.
Water test results continue to be received by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission, West Virginia American Water Co., the Ohio EPA and Cincinnati Water. The Ohio River results “are encouraging that downstream water systems will not be impacted by the fire,” according to Messina.
As was also previously reported, the State Fire Marshal’s office found potential fire code violations while inspecting other IEI-owned properties late last week. Officials are expected to release final results from these inspections when they are completed and assessed. They assured that these inspections have so far yielded no signs of imminent danger.
With a “cool down” period completed since the fire being extinguished, the property is being turned back over to the owner. Specialized Professional Services, Inc. has concluded the work it has conducted for Wood County officials. It is unknown if the company will be retained by IEI for compliance with the DEP order.
According to officials, an investigation into the incident by the State Fire Marshal remains ongoing and will not be affected by turning over the property to the owner.