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  1. #1
    Atomic Punk ZeoBandit's Avatar
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    10.20.16 @ 04:50 AM
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    Default Toxic cloud from plant fire forces thousands to evacuate

    Toxic cloud from plant fire forces thousands to evacuate
    POSTED: 8:51 a.m. EDT, October 6, 2006
    Story Highlights
    Downtown of Apex, North Carolina, covered in thick black smoke
    At least 106 nursing home residents hospitalized, officials say
    Cause of blasts, fire at hazardous waste plant unknown
    Facility fined in March for safety violations

    APEX, North Carolina (CNN) -- Half of the 32,000 residents of Apex, North Carolina, have been asked to evacuate Friday after explosions and fire at a hazardous waste plant released noxious gases and flames 150 feet high over the town.

    People "are putting themselves in very grave danger by being near or around this smoke. If you see smoke, get away from it." said Bruce Radford, manager of the Raleigh suburban town.

    "There are pesticides, oxides, chlorine gases, there are all grades of contaminated material in this fire and in this smoke," he said. (Watch "worst disaster in town history" -- 1:09)

    No deaths have been reported from the fire at the plant, called Environmental Quality Industrial Services, but more than 100 people have been hospitalized.

    Officials said they didn't know what sparked the blaze, but The Associated Press quoted Mayor Keith Weatherly as saying flames jumped the plant site and appeared to have caused petroleum tanks, belonging to another company, to explode.

    Fireballs seen shooting up, blasts heard over and over
    John Echols, 28, who lives near the plant, told the News & Observer newspaper the blasts were "like the world's largest bowl of Rice Krispies -- pop, pop, pop! But it was real loud." He said at first, fireballs "would shoot up from time to time -- it was nasty."

    A yellow haze lingered over downtown and the air smelled faintly of chlorine as police lined the main street that runs through the town's business district, blocking both ends of the road, according to AP.

    Chlorine gas is yellow-green and has a pungent, irritating odor, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It's used to manufacture other chemicals and was used during World War I as a choking agent, the CDC Web site said. It can damage the eyes, throat and lungs.

    The downtown is covered in thick black smoke, and Radford said he is concerned about people who have ventured near the fire for a closer look. Residents as far as two miles away could see the plume or smell the chemicals, officials told AP.

    "People are going to want to come in and sightsee at this fire scene," Radford told AP. "They will either get terribly sick or they will be arrested. No questions asked."

    Practically the entire eastern part of the town of Apex, located about 10 miles southwest of Raleigh, had been evacuated by early Friday, Radford said. The fire shut a large stretch of State Road 55, an important commuter corridor to jobs at Research Triangle Park, the News & Observer reported.

    Close all windows, turn off air conditioning
    Radford asked residents to close all windows, turn off all air conditioning and be aware if they have "tenderness of the mouth, gagging and nausea, which are typical signs of poisoning."

    Although the plant is in an industrial area, neighborhoods are close by.

    A hazardous materials team from nearby Raleigh was to assess the damage at daybreak. Radford told the News & Observer that firefighters plan to put on special protective suits and scale 90-foot ladders to better observe the disaster.

    Although flames reached 150 feet, officials are letting the fire burn itself out to avoid toxic runoff and the threat to firefighters.

    "Water would flood the area with toxic chemicals," Radford said. "It just needs to burn up."

    Mayor Weatherly warned an approaching front could change the wind direction by midmorning. "If the weather changes, it could bring more neighbors in danger and they may require evacuations," he said.

    Facility fined for safety violations
    The Wayne, Michigan-based EQ Industrial Services processes hazardous and nonhazardous waste, according to its Web site. On March 31, the plant was fined for six safety violations, according to the North Carolina Department of Environmental and Natural Resources Web site.

    It was required to pay a fine of $32,000 for failing to "minimize the possibility of a sudden or nonsudden release of hazardous waste constituents to air, soil or surface water which could threaten human health or the environment."

    The company was also cited for storing a container of hazardous waste beside an incompatible one and for not clearly marking containers to identify their contents.

    It was also cited for failing to immediately carry the procedures outlined in the contingency plan "whenever there is a release of hazardous waste or constituents which threatens or could threaten human health or the environment."

    Nursing home patients treated
    Hospital officials said at least 106 residents from a nearby nursing home were admitted, in addition to people complaining of severe respiratory distress. The News & Observer reported that about 10 firefighters and a police officer were taken to hospitals with severe respiratory problems.

    Residents have been asked to evacuate from at least six neighborhoods; others have been told to remain in their homes.

    "We haven't been outside because they told us not to go outside," Willette Teasley said. "There is a chlorine cloud from what I understand and when I stand at the bathroom window I see an orange tint over the trees."

    Authorities are calling this the "biggest emergency we've ever had to deal with," Teasley said.

    All area hotels were booked up, according to Radford, and at least 200 residents had gathered at an elementary school that was transformed into an emergency shelter. The shelter manager said Red Cross officials were en route with food, water and sleeping cots.

    Radford declared a state of emergency for the town and county and said the business district, town hall and all schools in Apex will be closed Friday.
    "What we are dealing with here, is a complete lack of respect for the law" - Jackie Gleason, Smokey and the Bandit - The site where you are the search engine.

  2. #2
    Eruption nitefly5150's Avatar
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    05.18.16 @ 09:01 AM
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    That's not far from here at all. I have a couple of friends who may have been evacuated, but have not heard from them yet.

  3. #3
    Hang 'Em High Red's Avatar
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    09.23.16 @ 02:27 AM
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    I stayed up last night watching this on the news, and I think Apex town Manager Radford did an outstanding job dealing with the media and remaining calm during a highly stressful situation.

    This thing basically happened as people were going to bed, and it became a bad situation very quickly. They couldn't send fire or police in initially because of the toxicity, and people who lived nearby were walking around in the smoke, trying to get close to the situation and find out what was up.

    Unfortunately, emergency workers couldn't tell them at that point to stay away, and the town manager was stressing that the rubber-neckers were putting their lives in grave danger. If they had turned on the local news they would have been better informed.

    Another problem early on was that initially, the people who needed to leave were also hearing that they needed to stay home and turn off the AC. The authorities were basically saying to stay inside unless someone comes around telling you to leave. But within ten minutes or so, they were telling everyone in east Apex to evacuate.

    In other words, it was confusing and dangerous and changing by the minute, but you could tell Bruce Radford was doing his best to handle it all.

    I guess the lesson is, if you smell burning chemicals, don't try to close in and get a better whiff, go in the other direction.

  4. #4
    Hot For Teacher
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    06.09.16 @ 01:19 AM
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    Yeah, that fire is just 7 miles up the road from me. Was flipping through channels after NC State spanked FSU and there's almost a mushroom cloud on the local news. A petroleum depot blew up when the fire spread.



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