FAIRMONT, W.Va. (WBOY) — The Fairmont Brine Processing Plant caught fire in May, drawing more attention to the hazardous waste that has sat inside the abandoned facility for years.
12 News covered the fire that took place at the facility and stated within the article that first responders on the scene were not testing positive for contamination. Some time after the fire, Dr. Yuri Gorby visited the plant and tested the area himself.
“Around the site there are some rocks that are a slightly different color, like a darker brown, and those were rocks that have come from the hot zones I found that are now in the open parking lot. The tennis shoe tracks that I’ve seen in that brown, clay material, that was some of the hottest materials on the site and that was obviously taken home with somebody. You can’t get that stuff off of your shoes without thoroughly washing it,” Dr. Gorby said.
Residents of the area have expressed their concerns with the abandonment of the plant, even reaching out to the Marion County Commission. Though the commission has expressed solace towards the public, legally, the Federal Environmental Protection Agency is the only organization that has authority to do anything.
12 News reached out to the EPA to see what plans were in store regarding safety and the future of the Fairmont Brine Plant.
“EPA is aware of the situation at the Fairmont Brine facility and are working in coordination with EPA is coordinating with the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WV DEP), West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (WV DHHR), Marion County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, and others to ensure a unified response to protect the public. Our team has been on-site to evaluate emergency actions needed to stabilize the site and will be doing a thorough evaluation of any potential contamination releases to the environment. EPA will also secure the site to prevent unauthorized access and potential exposure to the public. The agency and its contractor have implemented temporary security measures at the front entrance and lower complex including barriers and NO TRESPASSING signage and are planning to fence off the area. The response team will also regularly be on site to perform work, which should further deter public access.”– Kelly Offner, US EPA Mid-Atlantic Region
An updated press release from the EPA is set to be released on Thursday with more information on the cleanup process regarding the plant, though the affects may touch more than the majority realize.
“The holding ponds up there, the top one would take raw brine, so again those are going to be hotter sentiments than the stuff that’s down in the processing plant pond down below, but both of those are flowing over the hill eventually into the Monongahela River,” Dr. Gorby said.
12 News will keep up with this story as it develops.