Remember how Trump promised to "downsize" the EPA?
Fri Oct 27, 2017 10:40am

And people were soooo happy to vote for him, because the EPA is just a bunch of meddling bureaucrats.

West Virginia voted overwhelmingly for Trump.
A plastics factory in West Virginia has been on fire for 5 days and no one knows the health impacts
Governor hopes EPA experts will help West Virginia deal with disaster.


It’s been more than five days since a major industrial fire started at an old warehouse in Parkersburg, West Virginia, and state officials still have not been able to put together a list of the potentially toxic materials that were stored in the 420,000-square-foot facility.

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) declared a state of emergency in Wood County, where public schools have been closed all week due to the poor air quality and health concerns from the fire. Local and state officials are struggling to determine the potential long-term impacts from the fire. “We don’t really know all the specifics about as far as the endangerment to our people,” Justice said at a press conference Tuesday.

Air quality tests are not finding significant pollutants in the air coming from the warehouse, known as the Ames plant, officials said. Residents as far as 30 miles away in Wood County, West Virginia, though, have complained about the smell from the fire. Parkersburg, a town of about 31,000 residents located on the Ohio River, is the county seat of Wood County.

The WVU Medicine Camden Clark Medical Center in Parkersburg has treated 50 to 60 patients in its emergency room for fire-related symptoms since Saturday. Patients complained of respiratory issues, headaches, sore throat, eye irritation, coughing, and shortness of breath, according to news reports.

The Parkersburg warehouse, owned by Intercontinental Export-Import Inc., was being used to store recyclable plastics. Intercontinental Export-Import is a subsidiary of SirNaik, a company founded in 1987 for the purpose of purchasing and selling recycled plastics.

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued an order on Thursday requiring Intercontinental Export-Import to “immediately provide a detailed inventory of all materials that were burned” at the Parkersburg warehouse. In the order, the DEP said Intercontinental Export-Import operates large warehouses and recycling facilities in and around Parkersburg that “are known to contain several polymer materials in the form of pellets, flake, strand, beads, plop, dust, granules, and resins.”

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reported Wednesday that DEP inspectors visited the warehouse earlier this year and found violations that indicated continued problems at the facility that two local volunteer firefighters had warned nearly a decade before could be at risk of a major fire. The DEP employees inspected the warehouse in February, concluding that the facility’s “general housekeeping” was “unsatisfactory,” according to Gazette-Mail reporter Ken Ward.

Although state and local officials have been unable to identify the products inside the warehouse, a list of products that were potentially inside the plant at the time of the fire were PVC, nylon, titanium dioxide, fibergalass, formaldehyde, teflon, according to the sheriff’s office of Washington County, Ohio, located across the Ohio River from Parkersburg.

The West Virginia governor said he is “enormously” concerned over the potential long-term problems from the fire. He is hoping that experts from the federal Environmental Protection Agency who “may know something that we may miss” will “come and assist us.”

Earlier this year, Justice joined President Donald Trump at a rally in West Virginia to announce that he was switching his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican. Justice has been a strong supporter of Trump since he assumed the presidency.

Under Trump’s proposed 31-percent budget cut for the EPA, the resources to respond to emergencies such as the Parkersburg fire, along with much of the other state-level work performed by the agency, would be eliminated or sharply reduced. EPA staff and scientists at its regional offices across the country regularly respond to emergency calls from city and state officials. Funds to respond to many of those calls, including from West Virginia officials, would no longer be available under Trump’s budget.