Cloud hovers over East Liverpool following accident

July 14, 2013
By STEPHEN HUBA – Special to the Salem News , Salem News

EAST LIVERPOOL – An accident at Heritage Thermal Services on the city’s East End sent a large cloud of ash and steam into the air Saturday afternoon.

Because the ash has a high metal content, East Liverpool fire Chief Bill Jones advised East End residents to wash fruits and vegetables from their gardens and to replace food and water for pets and farm animals.

Heritage spokesman Raymond J. Wayne said the accident happened at 1 p.m. Saturday during the course of “routine incineration operations,” when a large amount of ash fell from several interior walls of the incinerator.

A plume of steam and ash rises over the east end of East Liverpool as a result of an accident Saturday at Heritage Thermal Services, formerly Heritage-WTI. Authorities advised East End residents to, as a precaution, wash fruits and vegetables from gardens and replace any outside food and water for pets. (Photo courtesy Alex Tambellini)

“The volume of ash was larger than the ash-removal system could handle and an undetermined amount was deposited outside of the incineration unit,” Wayne said.

The ash release was the result of an explosion that occurred when hot slag landed in a large water tank, said Luke Newbold, director of the Columbiana County Emergency Management Agency. “That sent ash and steam out into the air,” he said.

Also, an ember fell on several bags of vermiculite that were stored nearby and caught them on fire, Wayne said. The fire was extinguished by the facility’s emergency responders, with assistance from the East Liverpool Fire Department.

No injuries were reported, and cleanup efforts are under way, Wayne said.

As a result of the ash fall, the facility, formerly known as Heritage-WTI, stopped operations and immediately began a previously-scheduled outage. The outage, which had been scheduled to start today for maintenance purposes, will last for two weeks, Wayne said.

Heritage personnel also are conducting air and soil sampling as a precaution at the facility’s fence line.

Ash from the accident was believed to have fallen as far north as Pennsylvania Avenue and as far west as Ohio Avenue. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency is responding to see if any ash was deposited into the Ohio River, Newbold said.

Heritage Thermal Services, located at 1250 St. George St. for more than 20 years, processes about 60,000 tons of hazardous and non-hazardous waste a year.

Disposal is done through a rotary kiln incineration process where temperatures reach anywhere from 1,800 to 1,950 degrees.