EPA To Remove Sanitizer Involved In Chickasha Fires
News 9 - August 15, 2022 6:07 am
Massive fire in Chickasha that destroyed the Chickasha Manufacturing Building August 8, 2022.
CHICKASHA, Okla. –
One week ago Sunday, a massive fire in Chickasha uncovered the questionable storage of millions of gallons of hand sanitizer. Now, Grady County District Attorney Jason Hicks is leading a multi-agency investigation. Those agencies include both state and local agencies.
“It was good to have all of the involved agencies working together in order to move forward with an investigation. There are multiple issues that must be resolved and I am confident the right team is in place to ensure a full determination as to all issues that will occur.”
One of the first steps in this investigation is to figure out how to safely remove the existing hand sanitizer from these sites. It’s a move that can’t come soon enough for those who live near those sites.
“This is some shady stuff,” said Curtis Hart, who lives in Chickasha. “It was just highly disappointing there was such a breakdown in our system that this can actually happen.”
The fire that destroyed the Chickasha Manufacturing Building was no surprise to Hart.
“I mean these buildings were stacked as much as you can get on concrete hanging on concrete to the grass edge,” he said.
For weeks, Hart, along with Thomas Butler, saw the truckloads of hand sanitizer piling up inside several locations in Grady County.
“We have all kinds of boxes and everything 600 truckloads,” Thomas Butler, Chickasha resident. “It’s quite a deal over there.”
Now the district attorney’s office has assembled a team of agencies to investigate the two fires that were fueled by the hazardous liquid.
“Now, we have some improper storage of the products out here, are we following the disposal process? That’s all the factors we’re looking at here,” said Judah Sheppard, State Fire Marshal’s Office.
As part of the initial investigation, the Oklahoma State Department of Environmental Quality issued an emergency order to Bordwine Development, the company linked to these locations, to stop receiving and transporting the sanitizer. They must also stop the improper disposal of it.
“I’m tired of smelling that smell,” said Hart. “It deserves some attention.”
And it is, on Sunday, workers with the DEQ were out at one of the sites, near Butler’s home, collecting soil samples to test for any evidence of contamination. The Environmental Protection Agency has also been out this weekend to evaluate the sites. However, for those living nearby, the removal of the hand sanitizer can’t come soon enough.
“The propane tank isn’t over 150 feet from here,” said Butler. “I’m getting pretty scared about it if that one heated up that bad over there like that.”
“I hope whoever’s responsible for this has to put it back like it was,” added Hart.
Once all the assessments are complete, the EPA will begin the process of removing the sanitizer safely.