A recycling plant in Richmond, Indiana recently caught fire, raising residential health and environmental concerns. Firefighters first responded to a call last Tuesday and arrived to find a semitrailer with unknown plastics engulfed in flames behind one of the plant’s buildings. According to the city Fire Chief Tim Brown, the flames spread to several buildings at the site but were stopped before they could cross into residential areas.
“Once the fire got out of control, it darkened down on us, and we backed out real quick and then went into defensive mode,” Brown said.
The main issue is the burning of plastics. Indiana State Fire Marshal Steve Jones explained that, “There is a host of different chemicals that plastics give off when they’re on fire, and it’s concerning.” According to Jones, the black smoke rising from the site is “definitely toxic.” Jones also said the fire will likely burn for days.
No major injuries have been reported as of yet, but 2,000 of the city’s 35,000 residents were ordered to evacuate, and those downwind of the evacuation zone were encouraged to shelter in place and to bring all pets indoors. The surrounding areas were evaluated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for toxic substances such as asbestos. Air quality tests confirmed there was no evidence of styrene or benzene in the air.
Though no one has been injured, associate professor of environmental health sciences at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Richard Peltier, says “the biggest risk is the unknown chemicals that are formed as the compounds burn.”
While the cause of the fire has yet to be determined, Richmond Mayor Dave Snow admitted that city officials “were aware that what was operating here was a fire hazard. This was a fear for us.” No one can predict when recycling fires will occur, but it is important to always be prepared, especially for residents living near any type of recycling facility.
Fires are always a risk in the recycling industry, especially for IT asset disposition facilities. Plastics release toxic chemicals as they burn, and so can electronics if they sit in landfills for too long. Both scenarios are dangerous to human health and the environment. For this reason, practicing proper waste management is crucial to a sustainable atmosphere.
HOBI is an R2v3, RIOS, and ISO-14001 certified IT asset management and disposition facility with three locations and more than 30 years of experience in the waste recycling industry. HOBI partners with reputable companies and helps relieve the burden of IT asset disposition via electronics recycling while ensuring no harm comes to the environment or surrounding residents.
For more information about our ITAD services, call 817-814-2620 or contact HOBI at firstname.lastname@example.org.