Officials briefed the public at the Monday, Jan. 6 town council meeting regarding the fire that took place at the Clean Earth facility at 58 N. Washington St. on Tuesday, Dec. 31, and health officials said that they expect no lingering health concerns at the property.
Although there is still an ongoing local investigation, the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has already closed their investigation into the fire at the soil treatment and recycling facility citing no concerns.
“There’s no additional testing that they recommended that they’re going to do. From my end I walked the property today [Monday, Jan. 6], and there’s absolutely no concerns on my part,” said Shane Lockwood, director of the Plainville Southington Health District. “The quickness, the condition of that day, DEEP has absolutely no concerns regarding this, they’re not planning anything in the future, and there are no public health concerns from my point.”
Scott Miller, the New England regional general manager of Clean Earth, explained that the facility is mainly concerned with beneficial reuse, a process that deeply cleans and treats soil. The treated soil is then used for commercial and industrial infrastructure such as contractors performing remediation.
The treatment process involves many steps, and the last step involves running the materials through a wet scrubber, which removes any leftover impurities. The wet scrubber is the piece of equipment that caught on fire.
“Adjacent to the scrubber equipment there is a nitrogen tank that is used in the operation, this tank was not exposed to the fire,” said Plainville Fire Marshall Larry Sutherland. “The investigation is active and therefore no further information will be communicated regarding the origin or cause of the fire.”
Town manager Robert Lee reported that there were no injuries sustained as a result of the incident.
Miller explained that FM Global, Clean Earth’s insurance company, is conducting an investigation which is still open. As of the presentation last week, FM Global did not believe the fire was caused by Clean Earth’s process of cleaning soil.
Plainville deputy fire chief, Tom Moschini detailed how the department used mutual aid to call in Farmington, Southington, and Bristol’s fire departments to assist in putting out the fire and to man the Plainville department in case of another emergency.
The Plainville police department was also on site to close down the roadway, as the FD utilized the fire hydrant across the street from the facility—and a private hydrant on the property—to put out the flames. No foam was used to put out the fire, only water.
“While the fire suppressant was going on, we meet with DEEP,” said Moschini. “They did their size up and said there was no hazards of health at this time. At no time at all was the town in any kind of hazard with either the smoke or any fumes from that system.”
At this time, Miller is estimating that the Clean Earth facility will be back up and running by the end of February, as there has been reports of long lead times on some equipment that will need to be procured.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Taylor Murchison-Gallagher, email her at TMurchison@PlainvilleObserver.com.