Environment

Idaho hazardous waste facility to resume limited operations following fatal explosion

Debris is scattered across the roof of a US Ecology building where an explosion occurred on Saturday at the company’s hazardous waste site near Grand View. Monte “Alex” Green, 48, was killed in the blast and three other employees were injured. Investigators are looking into the cause of the explosion. The Boise-based company processes lead, arsenic and other hazardous materials and turns them into non-hazardous residues.
Debris is scattered across the roof of a US Ecology building where an explosion occurred on Saturday at the company’s hazardous waste site near Grand View. Monte “Alex” Green, 48, was killed in the blast and three other employees were injured. Investigators are looking into the cause of the explosion. The Boise-based company processes lead, arsenic and other hazardous materials and turns them into non-hazardous residues. doswald@idahostatesman.com

Nearly three months after an explosion that killed one worker and injured three others, an Idaho hazardous waste site will resume some operations, according to an Idaho Department of Environmental Quality news release.

The DEQ approved a Jan. 24 request from US Ecology Idaho to begin limited waste management operations for the first time since the November explosion. According to a US Ecology news release, landfill operations resumed Feb. 7.

Brian English, hazardous waste permitting manager at DEQ, said the only work at the site in the past several months has been related to cleanup and recovery from the explosion.

“They have not received waste, they have not treated waste, they have not disposed of waste,” English told the Statesman in a phone interview.

The DEQ permit allows US Ecology to process “far less” waste than normal capacity, English said. The company will largely use the permit to move pre-treated waste to the landfill in an effort to further clean up the site.

“(Our) landfill experienced no damage during the November 17 incident and landfill disposal activities have resumed with several shipments received on February 8,” the US Ecology release said. “Additional shipments are expected in the near future and other traditional services such as drum processing and waste treatment will be rolled out in a phased approach at a later date.”

According to English, the company will likely need additional temporary permissions before it can resume normal operations.

“This is the first of many steps to getting up and going,” English said.

The explosion is still under investigation by the DEQ, OSHA and the EPA, English said. US Ecology is also conducting an internal investigation.

“Substantial progress has been made in the understanding and mechanics of the event,” the company said in its statement.

The company converts contaminants such as arsenic, lead, zinc, cadmium into non-hazardous materials for disposal, according to an earlier Associated Press report. It has been in Grand View for more than 60 years.

Related stories from Idaho Statesman

Nicole Blanchard is the Idaho Statesman’s outdoors and insight reporter. She grew up in Idaho, graduated from Idaho State University and Northwestern University and frequents the trails around Boise as much as she can.If you like seeing stories like this, please consider supporting our work with a digital subscription to the Idaho Statesman.

  Comments