Ashton Marra Published

Fire, Leak Reported at Martinsburg Chemical Site


Original story posted Friday, Jan. 31 at 2:46 p.m.

Emergency units in Berkeley County are responding to a reported fire at Ecolab Inc. in Martinsburg.

Ecolab is located in the 900 block of Baker Road near the V.A. Medical Center. The company manufactures industrial strength chemicals, solvents and cleaners.

911 officials said they received reports of an outside tank on fire. Nine equipment units were on scene as of 2:30 p.m. on Friday and were reporting no active fire, but a Hazmat team is checking for any possible leaks as a result.

911 officials could not say what chemical or solvent might be stored on site.

Updated Friday, Jan. 31 at 6:11 p.m.

A spokesman with Ecolab said about 70 of the plant’s 160 employees were on site at the time of the fire. Those employees were evacuated to a separate location on site.

Roman Blahoski, Director of Global Communications for Ecolab Inc., said those employees have since been given the all clear and production on site has resumed.

Updated Friday, Jan. 31 at 4:18 p.m.

A Department of Environmental Protection spokesman says “acetic acid” leaked from the 4,000 gallon tank that caught fire at Ecolab Inc. in Martinsburg Friday.

Michael Huff says they received a call to the state spill hotline at 2:11 p.m., but could not say if the call came from Ecolab employees or county emergency management officials.

Huff says the material is listed as hazardous and toxic, but the spill was contained to a containment area and did not effect any local waterways. He could not say, however, how much of the chemical had leaked.

Sheriff Kenny Lemasters said the situation on scene is “pretty much under control.” The evacuation notice has been lifted and area residents are being allowed to return to their homes as of 4 p.m.

Lemasters says “acetic acid” is the “main ingredient” involved in the incident.

Updated Friday, Jan. 31 at 4:00 p.m.

According to a statement from Ecolab, no chemical was released into the environment following a fire Friday afternoon.

Ecolab officials say at approximately 1:45 p.m. Friday, a heating system malfunctioned resulting in a small fire in the insulation of an outdoor storage tank.

Roman Blahoski, Director of Global Communications for Ecolab Inc., said employees were evacuated as a precaution, the fire was extinguished and no injuries were reported.

Blahoski said Ecolab manufactures and distributes commercial cleaning products used by hotels and businesses, such as detergents for laundry services. He said he did not know what was was contained in the tank that caught fire and could not recall any other incidents occurring in the past at the Martinsburg site.

Updated Friday, Jan. 31 at 3:36 p.m.

Berkeley County Sheriff Kenny Lemaster said both Berkeley County and Ecolab Hazmat crews are working to contain a leak on site. Lemaster described the chemical as “an acid,” but could not provide further details on the specifics of the chemical or how much had leaked from the tank.

An incident command center has been set up just outside of the Ecolab property. Lemasters said the leak should be fully contained and the site sealed in two hours.

More from the original post:

Sheriff’s deputies have closed the road and are diverting traffic in the area. Dave Emke of The Martinburg Journal says area residents are being evacuated:

The Martinsburg Journal also reports that road that enters into the plant has been shut down at Shockey Memorial Boulevard and Schuman Boulevard as crews attend to the developing situation. Five local fire departments are on scene. The Berekely County Office of Emergency Services Hazmat unit and the Berkeley County Emergency Ambulance Authority are also on the scene.

There are no injuries reported, according to Margaret Hoogland, Berkeley County Central Dispatch supervisor.