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IEI details first steps of remediation in email to county

By BRETT DUNLAP and MICHAEL ERB

The Parkersburg News and Sentinel

PARKERSBURG, W.Va.  — A letter sent to Wood County officials Wednesday details the first steps to secure and remediate the site of the IEI Plastics warehouse fire on Camden Avenue.

The email from Sunny Naik, accounts manager with SurNaik Holdings of WV which owns Intercontinental Export-Import Plastics, was received shortly before noon on Wednesday and lists steps for security, water management and solid waste management. It was released Thursday morning during the Wood County Commission meeting.

Fencing was placed around the site Wednesday, and Naik said company employees would be onsite as night watch and a local security detail will be hired to monitor the site.

“This is to ensure (the) safety of locals and protect our interest,” Naik said in the email.

Naik said company officials are meeting with “local experts” to develop a remediation and water management plan and would be meeting with consultants Thursday and today. A proposal will be given to the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection for review.

The proposal “will include water containment and treatment” plans, he said.

Naik said SurNaik Holdings is working with two landfill companies “to see who can handle the scope of the project and the accepted material classification at their sites.” Specialists will perform material sampling and waste classification.

“Once results are in hand, we will work with local DEP officials to provide (a) plan of action,” Naik said in the email.

Naik called this “phase one” of the company’s plan of action, and said officials want “to create a timeline of proposed work and create check points for progress.” Naik called the cleanup project “monumental” but pledged “proper management and efforts from the right contractors will make this as smooth as possible.”

Wood County Commission President Blair Couch said the Naik companies are in constant contact with state and federal agencies with regular updates being sought.

“The lead agencies on his remediation are the U.S. EPA, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, the West Virginia State Fire Marshal’s Office,” Couch said. “Those people are leading the charge and they are not letting up.

“I know they are looking for action or a corrective plan to be reviewed and I believe that deadline will be Monday.”

Couch said the plan will be fast-tracked for review.

“Both the EPA and the DEP said that plan would be reviewed in a few hours,” he said. “They won’t be holding them up. It won’t be a governmental bureaucracy that will need ten days to review. This will be an immediate action.”

Couch said the county still wants to see something happen in regards to the money the county has had to pay already. The state has offered assurances the county would be reimbursed.

“We are facing a rather tremendous bill and we still haven’t gotten a final tally,” he said. “We are attempting to get that as quickly as we can.

“The state has offered to make the county whole in this so we don’t go bankrupt.”

There is a discussion going on about how the fire departments will be reimbursed for many of their efforts.

“That will be the property owner and their insurance company,” Couch said. He has not ruled out that the county might have to seek legal action to be able to get reimbursed at some point.

The county put out a considerable expense in the first few days of the fire, buying fuel and other needed items for firefighting efforts, renting light poles, accessing gravel and more.

Fire departments have missing equipment and damaged hoses, officials said.

The county also supplied generators to the site to help with efforts.

In getting the generators serviced, “do we add those to our costs?” County Administrator Marty Seufer asked.

With lawsuits filed and more expected, Couch said there will be a lot of things that will have to be addressed by a variety of people.

“This is a complicated issue and there are people circling the courthouse and the class action lawsuits are coming quick,” he said. “It is going to be difficult for everyone involved.”

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