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EPA collecting, sampling materials at site of Richmond warehouse fire today

Richmond Fire.jpg
Posted at 12:54 PM, May 15, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-15 18:06:24-04

RICHMOND — More than a month removed from the large industrial fire at the My-Way Trading Warehouse in Richmond, Environmental Protection Agency officials are on the scene to begin collecting materials.

The fire began on April 11 and burned for several days — causing thousands to evacuate.

The EPA says asbestos has already been found in debris samples. The goal is now to collect dozens of samples at the warehouse to send to a lab for testing. Once the chemicals are identified, the EPA says cleanup can begin.

"We have every belief that whatever we find is just here at the site," said EPA On-scene Coordinator, Allen Jarrell.

Jarrell said for the next four to five days, teams will be collecting samples to test for "any and every toxin."

"We are going to be taking probably 20 samples to check for asbestos then we will so 60 samples to look for metals, svoc's, pesticides and any and everything else then we will go from there. It will take anywhere up to a month to get those samples back," said Jarrell.

The city of Richmond owns a piece of the recycling warehouse property, along with Seth Smith and Cornerstone Trading Group.

The EPA says it will take millions of dollars to clean the mess up.

Whose responsible for the bill, Jarrell says, will depend on what chemicals are found.

"That has yet to be determined," said Richmond Fire Chief, Tim Brown.

Hauling the debris off- site is also expected to take months.

"In this case, we could be competing for trucks with what's going on in East Palestine. Hopefully, it won't be that problem but we could be and depending on that it could shorten or lengthen the cleanup process," said Jarrell.

As smoke lingered in this community for days, thousands were forced to evacuate.

Many residents are still concerned about their health.

"They just need to be honest with us," said Gledon Jarvis.

Glendon Jarvis says his mother, hasn't been feeling well since the fire.

"She's asthmatic. The smoke was just overwhelming. We live right across the street it's been pretty bad," said Jarvis.

As debris is lifted for testing, the EPA assures residents they have the equipment in place to protect residents from harmful dust that may be released during this process.

In the weeks since the fire, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) and the City of Richmond have taken several steps to clean up the site of the fire.

The EPA began sampling the material on Monday.

Once the material is sampled, officials will safely remove and dispose of the debris. Once it’s removed, the EPA will conduct further testing to make sure the site is safe.

The city will continue to release updates moving forward to citizen's via thewebsite set up following the fire.