Eyewitness Ames plant fire: ‘a week of hell’

first_imgA fire burns at the former Ames plant in Parkersburg, West Virginia. The fire started on Oct. 21.By Xzander Stephens in the Parkersburg, W.Va., areaIt was around 12:20 a.m. I had just gotten off a 10-hour shift and was heading back to my apartment when I happened to notice what looked like a gas flame at a plant off in the distance. My ride and I decided to investigate, so we got off 7th Street and began heading to the interstate. Once there we saw the biggest fire I had ever seen, with a thick black column of smoke rising shooting out from it as sirens whined in the background.I assumed it was some freak accident, that it would be put out, and that I’d hear about it in our local news. I headed home, ate my meal and went to sleep.What I then woke up to, and lived through over the next week, was far different than anything I could imagine.What had taken place was that a plastics warehouse owned by Intercontinental Export-Import Inc. had caught on fire. The city of Parkersburg was thoroughly unprepared, despite hosting 30 or more chemical plants in and around the city, including four or five IEI warehouses.More than 100 first-responder firefighters from 40 different fire stations, including from neighboring Ohio, as well as an environmental emergency company, came to put out what many began to call Chemblaze 2017.Despite sporadic rainfall and the relentless day-and-night efforts of the first responders, the blaze continued for nearly a week. The thick black column traveled from “ground zero” to neighboring working-class communities as well as communities across the river on the northside of Parkersburg. Residents of towns 30 miles away have reported the smell of burnt chemicals in the air.A thick, inescapable chemical odor was constantly present throughout the week, forcing city and state officials to declare a state of emergency. Schools were closed, residents were warned to stay indoors, and gas masks were distributed in Parkersburg and its sister city of Vienna.Myself and many of my neighbors, even while staying indoors, experienced symptoms including nausea, burning eyes, headaches and increased respiratory problems even during day six of the disaster, with the fire largely put out and no visible smoke hovering over the communities.From initial reports, roughly 50 to 60 patients have been treated in relation to the fire, many with hallmark symptoms of chemical pneumonitis. This figure is likely to increase as it is only reflective of patients going to the emergency room.Eyewitnesses have reported that several of the first responders were visibly ill in the street, and had to be taken to hospital.Two days after the fire began, amidst the usual song and dance of “everything is fine, it’s all safe,” the city urged residents to boil their water to neutralize possible contaminants related to the fire.A local news website, newscenter.tv, gave an incomplete list of chemicals contained in the IEI warehouse. It included polyvinyl chloride, nylon, formaldehyde, carbon black, titanium dioxide, anhydride TLV 0.1pm, polytetrafluoroethylene (Teflon), styrene-acrylonitrile, polybutylene terephthalate and acrylic sheets.Three days into the disaster, a Wood County Commision meeting was held where IEI representative Sunny Naik stated: “A disaster of this nature is something we have never encountered before. The (fire departments) have the most technical knowledge on a disaster of this sort. … We provided the MSDS [Material Safety Data Sheets] of the things in the building. We will take all responsibility for their insurance companies as the No. 1 priority will be cleaning up the site.” (newsandsentinel.com, Oct. 24)Sounds reasonable enough, except within these statements is a glaringly bold-faced corporate lie: State officials have said that IEI has filed absolutely no MSDS inventories. The state and federal chemical right-to-know law requires disclosures for certain chemicals if stored in certain amounts.State environmental inspectors visited the IEI warehouse earlier this year. West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection records released on Oct. 25 reveal numerous violations, indicating continuing problems at a facility that two local volunteer firefighters had warned could be at risk of a major fire nearly 10 years earlier.Lawrence Messina, director of communications for the West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety, said that no emergency and hazardous chemical inventory forms for the IEI facility were supplied to emergency response entities.In 2015, the WVDEP issued a consent order regarding IEI’s failure to file water runoff discharge monitoring reports. IEI was slapped with an $80,000 penalty and was forced to make an initial payment of $20,000. The DEP chief communications officer, Jake Glance, stated that “the rest of it was contingent on them filing their DMRs with us, and they never did.” (newsandsentinel.com, Oct. 24)The DEP’s Division of Water and Waste Management investigated the conditions in the warehouse in February. Inspectors said that “waste and pellets were still scattered around the site,” a diesel spill had not been fully cleaned, and storage drums left outside were deteriorating. Additionally, the company had continued water pollution violations and had not submitted required monthly progress reports to the DEP. (wvgazettemail.com, Oct. 25)An electrical fire broke out at the same IEI plant in 2012, but was quickly put out by local fire departments. Former City Fire Inspector Tim Flinn recalls that the sprinkler system didn’t work then. (thenewscenter.tv, Oct. 25)The plastics warehouse, formerly an Ames True Temper Tool plant, had a contract with DuPont to store its chemicals. DuPont officials have now attempted to distance themselves and obfuscate their relationship to the plant.While no official answer has been given as to the exact cause of the most recent fire, it’s a safe bet to assume that investigators will come back with a report of corporate negligence as the root cause — something all too familiar to the citizens of Parkersburg, and to West Virginians in general.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

Read More »

Young people from Limerick City prepare to enter the ECO-Den

first_imgThe Munster ECO-Den is supported by Clare County Council, Cork City Council, Cork County Council, Kerry County Council. The Department of Environment, Community and Local Government and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs are the main funders of the overall initiative while Alupro Ireland and Dublin City Council are also supporters of the programme. WhatsApp NewsBreaking newsEnvironmentYoung people from Limerick City prepare to enter the ECO-DenBy Bernie English – April 5, 2016 927 Limerick’s National Camogie League double header to be streamed live Young people from Villiers School (North Circular Road, Limerick City) and St. Munchin’s College (Corbally Road, Co. Limerick) as well as groups from across from across Munster are preparing to face the judges in ECO-UNESCO’s Young Environmentalist Awards ‘Dragon’s Den Style’ ECO-Dens on Wednesday 6th of April at the Aula Maxima, University College Cork. Participants ranging from 10-18 years will present their action project to raise environmental awareness and make a positive contribution to their local community. Advertisement As an all island initiative, ECO-UNESCO’s Young Environmentalist Awards rewards and recognises the work of young people in environmental protection through local environmental action projects. Now in its seventeenth year, the programme has been receiving hundreds of applications from schools and youth groups from both the Republic and Northern Ireland over the past few weeks. The Munster ECO-Den is the third of five regional ECO-Dens. Established in 1999, ECO-UNESCO’s annual Young Environmentalist Awards are a fun and exciting way to empower young people to become better citizens, to build awareness of environmental issues in their locality and promote simple actions and lifestyle changes to improve the environment for all.Groups successful in the regional finals have a chance to attend the annual National Showcase and Awards Ceremony event held each May. There, participants will get a chance to showcase their work, meet TV celebrities and win fantastic prizes.by Bernie [email protected] Facebook Linkedin Commenting on the upcoming ECO-Den, Elaine Nevin, National Director of ECO-UNESCO, Ireland’s environmental education and youth organisation said,“The ECO-Dens present a fantastic opportunity for young people to a pitch to a panel of experts, tell them how their project makes a difference to the local environment and why they should be shortlisted for the finals in Dublin this May. The quality of the projects presented to us at the Connaught ECO-Den has always been very high and we are looking forward to hearing about what steps this year’s young people have taken to tackle environmental issues.” Limerick Ladies National Football League opener to be streamed live Twitter Predictions on the future of learning discussed at Limerick Lifelong Learning Festival Previous articleOn SYMBOLS: Culture of Death and Cultural LifeNext articleAnother first for Shannon Bernie Englishhttp://www.limerickpost.ieBernie English has been working as a journalist in national and local media for more than thirty years. She worked as a staff journalist with the Irish Press and Evening Press before moving to Clare. She has worked as a freelance for all of the national newspaper titles and a staff journalist in Limerick, helping to launch the Limerick edition of The Evening Echo. Bernie was involved in the launch of The Clare People where she was responsible for business and industry news. TAGSDragons DenlimerickVilliersYoung Environmentalists Limerick Artist ‘Willzee’ releases new Music Video – “A Dream of Peace” Sign up for the weekly Limerick Post newsletter Sign Up ECO-Den finalists will have to convince a panel of expert judges including Elaine Nevin (ECO-UNESCO), John O’Halloran (Vice President for Teaching and Learning at UCC), Dr Mary Stack (Environmental Awareness Officer at Cork County Council) and Sinead Mc Donnell (Environmental Awareness Officer at Limerick City and County Council) that their group deserves a spot at the ECO-UNESCO Young Environmentalist Awards 2016 Gala Showcase and Awards Ceremony in Dublin’s Mansion House on Wednesday 18th May. Print Email WATCH: “Everyone is fighting so hard to get on” – Pat Ryan on competitive camogie squads RELATED ARTICLESMORE FROM AUTHOR Billy Lee names strong Limerick side to take on Wicklow in crucial Division 3 clashlast_img read more

Read More »