The case study investigates an inferno at a perilous waste facility situated at Apex, North Carolina. The inferno started on the eve of October 6th, 2006, at the EQ hazardous waste facility on Investment Boulevard in Apex; a neighborhood of Raleigh, North Carolina. In response to the disaster, city authorities planned an evacuation exercise for tens of thousands of city dwellers for two days as the inferno kept raging.
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Around 30 residents sought medical treatment. The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) demanded a new national fire code for hazardous waste installations and for enhancing the disaster response mechanisms to community emergency planners with regard to the chemicals stored, and handled by these facilities. This can improve safety of sites.
What exactly caused the horrific fire?
According to the investigations done by CSB, an inferno started in the building that stored oxygen cylinders. The bays that stored wastes were brought for storage in preparation for transportation to final treatment sites and disposal facilities. It is believed that the oxygen chemicals were activated. The bay contained several chemical oxygen generators, which were brought from Mobile, Alabama.
These are wastes generated from airplane. Conversely, the oxygen generators had not been securely activated. Chemicals that contained chlorine in its solid state were heaped above the box that contained active oxygen generators. This is what was theorized to have started the fire at the facility. All these events may have triggered the fire in the storage bay.
The violation of the code on fire
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) promulgates information on fire protection standards for different industrial installations. For example, NFPA 820 is the “Standard for Fire Protection in Wastewater Treatment and Collection Facilities”).
Rob Hall, P. E. , a CSB lead Investigator who led the investigation discovered that there was only one fire control equipment at the site with portable and manually operated fire extinguishers. Buildings are supposed to have automatic fire extinguishers.
The enquiry into the fire accident found out that RCRA rules formulated by EPA call for facilities to install “fire control equipment” although do not spell out what equipment and systems should be in installed. Furthermore, it noted that a national fire code for proper fire protection measures for hazardous waste facilities was non-existent.
The EQNC hazardous waste edifice was not well equipped with fire or smoke sensing devices, automatic fire containment equipment, or fire barriers, despite the fact that the building served as a storage facility for drums of flammables and explosive materials. In summary we can say that NFPA 820 is the code that was violated.
The impact of the fire (damages, loss, and consequences)
The fire incident caused air pollution, damages to nearby buildings. More residents were displaced. When the fire occurred, around 30 people (together with 13 first responders) went to seek medical treatment at neighboring hospitals for respiratory complications and nausea.
As a result of this fire incident, CSB issued a safety advisory to ensure that chemical oxygen generators are securely activated and discharged prior to transportation and disposal.
The final verdict of CSB to EPA and Environmental Technology Council was to find proper ways of dealing with disaster planning, fire protection and managing hazardous waste facilities. It is the responsibility of each and every stakeholder to put measures in place to avert any future fire outbreaks.