8/12/2005

EPA: Ash from Detroit-area chemical plant blast isn't hazardous - 08/12/05

EPA: Ash from Detroit-area chemical plant blast isn't hazardous

ROMULUS -- Ash from a series of explosions and fire at a chemical plant in suburban Detroit doesn't appear to contain hazardous levels of toxic materials, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Friday.

Further testing was ongoing, officials said at a news conference.

Authorities in Romulus and Wayne lifted the evacuation orders in their communities on Thursday after preliminary data from the EPA showed there was no hazard to people in the area surrounding the plant.

The E.Q. Resource Recovery Inc. plant, about 25 miles southwest of Detroit, recycles chemicals such as airplane deicing fluid and industrial paint solvents.

The plant erupted in flames Tuesday night. Witnesses said they heard several loud explosions, then saw flames and smoke shoot into the sky.

Romulus police evacuated homes in a one-half-mile radius, while officials in neighboring Wayne initially cleared out about 1,000 homes in an area under the path of the fire's smoke plume. About 150 homes in Romulus and 750 homes in Wayne remained evacuated until Thursday.

At least 32 people were treated at hospitals. Most complained of a burning sensation in their mouths or difficulty breathing. Some firefighters also suffered heat-related illnesses as they fought the fire.

EPA: Ash from Detroit-area chemical plant blast isn't hazardous - 08/12/05

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