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Massive Blaze Finally Partially Extinguished at Indiana Recycling Plant

Posted on April 14, 2023 in

Smoldering Hotspots Continue to Vex Firefighters

Days after a catastrophic fire resulted in a highly toxic smoke plume that enveloped the city of Richmond, Indiana, firefighters generally extinguished the intense blaze. Nonetheless, hot spots located across the premises of the large industrial facility remain smoldering. Officials advise that it likely will be weeks before the fire is considered fully extinguished. There remain four major areas within the vast expanse of plastic amassed at the site that continue to smolder. As a consequence, toxic substances continue to be emitted into the air.

Plastic Recycling Plant Under Scrutiny for Safety Infractions for Years

The Indiana industrial fire occurred at a massive plastic recycling plant that consisted of six large buildings. All of the buildings went up in flames, leaving the plastics stowed in them to burn intensely and at this juncture and in some area, indefinitely.

Each building was full of plastic from floor to ceiling. The plastic recycling center is owned by one individual who has been identified as Seth Smith. Smith has been cited multiple times by the City of Richmond for creating hazardous conditions both in the buildings at the site and around the grounds of the facility more generally.

City inspectors found an array of major infractions at the plastic recycling center when a cleanup order was issued in 2019. That cleanup order was affirmed by a judge. Smith failed to comply with the cleanup mandate, permitting the hazardous condition to remain in place at the Indiana recycling plant.

The serious infractions and hazardous conditions existing at the Richmond recycling plant include:

· Dangerous storage of plastics of different types

· Lack of fire sprinklers and other remediation equipment

· Lack of utilities at the facility (electricity, gas, and water appear to have been lacking)

· Warehouse roofs with holes and other structural issues

Because of Smith’s continual failure to comply with cleanup orders from the City of Richmond, in 2020 the owner was barred from accepting any additional plastic into the facility. City officials did permit Smith an indeterminate period of time to sell what has been described as a “vast collection of plastic” on-hand at the site.

Extensive Evacuation Order Issued

A large-scale evacuation order was issued when the blaze commenced. A massive black smoke plume spread over an expansive area. The Environmental Protection Agency and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management confirmed that the smoke plume contains different highly toxic substances. In addition, a couple of days into the disaster, officials additionally advised that asbestos was in the air and contaminating soil and ground as a result of the Indiana industrial fire and associated dense smoke plume.

The evacuation order has not yet been lifted. At this juncture, there is no specific timeframe in which the evacuation order is expected to be rescinded, permitting people to return to their homes, businesses and other locations. The current mandatory evacuation zone still encompasses approximately a half mile radius around the Richmond recycling plant. The Environmental Protection Agency and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management are expected to continue to monitor air, ground, and water for an indefinite period of time.

Legal Rights Following an Indiana Industrial Explosion and Fire

The Doan Law Firm Indiana industrial explosion accident lawyer team has been monitoring the situation at the Richmond recycling plant. If you have suffered injuries or losses as a result of the Richmond recycling plant incident, a Doan Law Firm Indiana industrial explosion accident lawyer can answer any questions you may have regarding your situation.

A nationwide law practice, The Doan Law Firm can schedule an initial consultation with an experienced explosion accident attorney at any one of its 40 offices located throughout the country. A virtual consultation with an explosion accident lawyer from our firm can also be scheduled online as well. Our firm never charges a fee for an initial consultation.

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