The Valdosta Daily Times
Valdostans will not soon forget the explosions that rocked the Azalea East Industrial Park facility, Perma-Fix of South Georgia, Inc., on Aug. 14. Smoke billowed over the area hours after the initial blast at 2:22 p.m.
While firefighters faced flames and a series of successive explosions that afternoon, the Valdosta Fire Department has faced a long haul in completing its investigation into the incident. The need to interview injured Perma-Fix employees has complicated the department’s inquiries into the cause.
Perma-Fix employees Charlie Curry, Stan Williams, and Jamey Mitchell were injured during the explosion. Mitchell was treated and released from the hospital, and Curry and Williams' conditions were listed as critical in Shands Hospital in Gainesville, Fla.
Valdosta Fire Department Capt. John Wisenbaker told The Times Tuesday that only Williams remains in the hospital. Anne Smith, Perma-Fix director of communications, said, “All three are recovering well. One employee remains in the hospital and he is making great progress.”
The investigation was on hold until interviews could be conducted with the injured employees, but the VFD has not been able to conduct any of the interviews, Wisenbaker said.
“We definitely feel it was an accident. There doesn’t seem to be any foul play,” Wisenbaker said.
The VFD could use litigation to get the information it needs, but since no foul play is suspected, fire officials are trying to handle the case civilly.
“If we thought they had groundbreaking information, then we would take the legal route,” Wisenbaker said.
Responding to a question as to whether or not Perma-Fix intends to rebuild, Smith said, “The company continues to restore the site. Clean up and recovery efforts are coming along as we prepare for reconstruction.”
Wisenbaker stressed the importance that the site is being cleaned by Perma-Fix under federal Environmental Protection Agency supervision.
Smith said, “Clean-up efforts were aggressive to ensure there were no environmental releases.”
Smith added, “The EPA ensured no problem to the environment, and Georgia Environmental Protection Division is looking at clean up and rebuilding.”
She thanked Valdosta for the support Perma-Fix has received throughout this incident.