EPA confirms hazardous materials found in Prattville

Site of chemical find - Photo by Marc Parker
Site of chemical find - Photo by Marc Parker

Prattville – The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has confirmed that hazardous chemicals have been identified in an abandoned metal plating shop at 112 Industrial Park Road in West Prattville.

On March 12, the City of Prattville released information indicating that possible hazardous materials had been discovered in that location.

According to EPA on-scene coordinator, Jeff Crowley, the building is in such poor condition that many liquids have been mixed together.

“A lot of times we don’t ever determine what the actual chemical is – we call it waste,” said Crowley. “Waste means it could have a little bit of acid mixed in with some of that sludge over there or with some of that oil over there, so we determine the properties of the chemicals and that tells us where we can send it for disposal.”

“Typically, in this type of business, where chrome gets bound to metal, different kinds of acids are involved as well as cyanide … there would also be some caustic materials involved. We have the PH tested on a scale of 0-14; caustic materials go higher than 7 and acidic materials go lower than 7,” he continued.

“When you get down to the 0s and 1s and the 14s you’re getting to really hazardous (high PH and low PH) and we have a lot of those liquids in the building. There are also drums in there that are actually labeled cyanide,” Crowley said.

Crowley, who was onsite from Wednesday until Friday of last week, went on to say that at that time he and his contractors secured the building and took off-site samples as well to determine if hazardous chemicals will also be found in the soil.

“We are currently awaiting the results of the off-site samples at this time,” Crowley said. “I want to emphasize also that we’ve enclosed all of the doors and everything so that people cannot get inside.”

Crowley said that chemicals were first found at this location the last part of February by the Prattville City Building Inspection group, who immediately called the Fire Department. The case was then referred to the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) for investigation and the EPA was brought in the first week of March.

“The EPA is usually brought in because of a funding issue as the disposal of hazardous materials can get very expensive,” Crowley said. “We have a program called Super Fund which is set aside by Congress and allows us to go out and clean up these kinds of places.”

“All of the waste materials will be disposed of at a special haz-waste landfill or disposal facility as soon as more samples come back and we take care of other issues,” stated Crowley.

Crowley is unsure at this time regarding the ownership of the building.

“We do not know, but we have some leads and are looking into that right now,” he said.

Article by Melissa Parker

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