By MICHAEL ERB
The Parkersburg News and Sentinel
PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection issued an order Thursday to Intercontinental Export Import Inc. demanding information on what materials were stored in the warehouse that burned this week and how that material will be properly disposed.
Lawrence Messina, director of communications for West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety, said Thursday the compliance order was issued because the owners of the property were not forthcoming with “critical information” on the contents of the warehouse.
“County and state officials have been trying to work as closely as possible with the owner of this property, his family members and their representatives to obtain critical information necessary to protect the health and safety of the firs responders and members of the public,” he said.
“Those efforts have not yielded nearly enough information.”
The IEI warehouse at the site of the former Ames shovel plant in south Parkersburg ignited early Saturday morning, with multiple fire agencies responding to the blaze which destroyed the entire 350,000-square-feet structure and some neighboring buildings.
Gov. Jim Justice declared a state of emergency Monday, and firefighters are still on scene trying to put out hot spots and make sure the fire does not reignite. A cloud of smoke has lingered over the valley since Saturday and can be seen and smelled from miles away.
Messina said officials still do not have a clear idea of what and how much was stored in the building. Officials believe there were plastics stored in the warehouse, but material safety data sheets obtained after the fire began were well out of date and unreliable. Other paperwork on the contents of the building is believed to have been lost in the blaze.
Messina said officials have received complaints and concerns from members of the public. The smoke forced some downtown busineses and agencies to close at the beginning of the week and Wood County Schools has been closed all week over air quality concerns.
The order issued Thursday by the Environmental Enforcement section of the WVDEP’s Division of Water and Waste Management directs the company to:
— Immediately take measures to comply with all terms and conditions of its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit.
— Immediately provide WVDEP a detailed inventory of all materials that were burned at Plant 1.
— Within 30 days to submit any remaining information requested by WVDEP for issuance of the NPDES permit modification to incorporate regulated activity at IEI’s Plant No. 2 (this facility did not burn).
— Within ten days to submit a plan of corrective action outlining completion dates for how and when the company will achieve compliance with all terms of its NPDES permits. The POCA must include proof of proper disposal of the material burned and provisions for providing detailed inventories of all other sites in West Virginia that are owned by companies associated with IEI.
The WV DEP also has ordered the company to pay a $60,622.50 fine stemming from inspection of and enforcement action taken against the site in 2015.
Sunny Naik of IEI could not be reached for comment Thursday.
“We’re not commenting at this time,” Somil Desai of IEI said Thursday when reached by phone. “We’re out of town at this time and we will be back in town Monday.”
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