Valdosta Daily Times

February 15, 2013

Fire put out at industrial park

Runoff chemicals get into waterway

Dean Poling
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — Valdosta firefighters extinguished an industrial park fire Thursday morning, then fought to keep chemical runoff from polluting a waterway.

While absorbent materials contained the majority of the runoff, some chemicals entered the water, said Valdosta Fire Chief J.D. Rice.

The city fire department contacted the state Environmental Protection Division and the water will be tested for possible contaminants.

At approximately 10:30 a.m. Thursday, city firefighters responded to a fire call within the Gil Harbin Industrial Park. They found smoke billowing from a transfer area of Perma-Fix of South Georgia on the 1600 block of James P. Rodgers Circle, Rice said.

Perma-Fix processes wastes, both hazardous and non-hazardous; these materials include aerosol cans, ink paste, etc.

Firefighters contained the fire to a transfer container, which Rice described as being similar to a tanker trailer with the top removed. Once ready for transfer, the top is replaced.

Though the definitive cause of the fire remained under investigation Thursday evening, the fire chief said workers were placing chemicals, such as paint and paint thinner, into this container when a chemical reaction ignited the blaze.

While extinguishing the fire, firefighters began spreading absorbent materials to keep the chemicals from running into the nearby waterway. Rice said he could not definitively name the water way, but Mud Creek runs near the industrial park.

Perma-Fix has a containment system to prevent chemicals from entering the waterway, but the runoff overwhelmed the system.

Georgia Petroleum Company is next door to Perma-Fix. Georgia Petroleum volunteered workers and equipment to help firefighters contain the run-off. Without Georgia Petroleum’s assistance, Rice said the water contamination would have been much worse.

No one was injured in the incident.