W. Jackson Street reopens at cleanup site

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

As cleanup work continues at the site of last month's explosion, fire and spill at Southern Energy, West Jackson Street has been reopened to traffic.

Certified Hazardous Materials Manager Bobby Kenner of First Response informed Shelbyville officials late Friday that the primary site work within the area of the road is complete.

The remaining liquid storage tanks which had lined the street have been removed, Kenner said, and the soils that were previously stockpiled along the road's shoulder and basin embankment were removed in previous weeks.

The proper removal of liquids from the tanks, as well as the ultimate removal of the tanks themselves "was in line with the agenda set forth within the attached EPA work plans," Kenner said.

Kenner also noted this also holds true for the "stockpiled soils previously staged off-site that are now on Southern Energy's property and being handled for disposal."

Waiting on report

Fire Chief Ricky McConnell said last month that the blaze and explosion was sparked when methanol was being transferred from a tractor-trailer to a permanent tank in a warehouse area of the building, which also housed the firm's corporate offices.

However, the state fire marshal's report on the incident "is not finished yet," Kate Abernathy, public information officer for the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance told the T-G Monday.

Southern Energy's contractor, First Response, is coordinating the disposal of wastewater collected during the initial response to the spill, said Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on-scene coordinator Steve Spurlin,

That wastewater could not be discharged to the city's treatment plant due to it containing higher levels of oil, Spurlin explained, and Southern Energy is conducting the transport and disposal of soils staged on their property.

Dirt disposal

The soils will remain covered during periods when load out is not occurring, and the remaining task requiring EPA involvement is the demolition and disposal of the tanks and tank farm area, Spurlin said.

Southern Energy will maintain a cover over the tank farm area and contingency runoff controls on the site until insurance inspectors return in early January to complete their investigation, the EPA official said.

"After that, it is EPA's understanding that (Southern Energy) will address the remaining residual waste associated with the tank farm," Spurlin explained, adding that the methanol tanker and tank have been emptied and pose no hazards.

Testing ceased

Spurlin also said the state department of environment and conservation (TDEC) has given approval for First Response to cease periodic testing of the basin waste water "as data indicates there is no increase in oil content as compared to normal influent storm water to the basin."

First Response will remove the boom and absorbent boom placed in the basin and at the out fall as a contingency measure at the first of the year, the EPA official said.