There were three environmental violations in April at the chemical waste disposal facility at which a fire broke out Monday afternoon, prompting the evacuation of some residents.
The fire broke out around 3 p.m. at Drug & Laboratory Disposal, Inc. in the 300 block of Broad Street. Multiple fire crews responded and the fire was contained by 5:30 p.m., though hazmat teams were brought in to determine if all the chemicals at the facility were safe.
Drug & Laboratory Disposal, Inc., which has been in operation since 1977, is a "licensed treatment, storage, and disposal facility" which disposes of academic, commercial and medical chemical waste. It "specializes in lab pack and small bulk containers ranging in size from two to 55 gallons."
The company has had 26 Department of Environmental Quality violations since 1986, including three in April.
An April 4 violation was for the lack of submittal of emergency situation contingency documents required by its operating license. A DEQ spokesperson said the initial plan it submitted did not include enough detail.
Another April 4 violation was for failure to notify the DEQ in a timely manner about a statistically significant increase in concentration of chloroform and re-sampling.
Both issues were addressed, District Supervisor Fred L. Sellers said.
An April 16 violation was also for failure to notify the DEQ about the increase in chloroform and a re-sampling.
Sellers said that violation stemmed from the earlier chloroform violation and that Drug and Laboratory Disposal failed to notify the DEQ of the increase and then take a second confirmation sample.
Sellers says the April violations were all minor considering the DEQ has very strict guidelines for businesses like Drug & Laboratory Disposal, Inc., even a slight infraction could generate a written violation.
The plant recently applied for and was granted an expansion by the DEQ.
In 2010, Drug and Laboratory Disposal paid a $41,300 fine after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency cited it for failure to comply with storage time limits, container labeling, dating rules and hazardous waste container labeling provisions.
There have been no Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) violations at the facility within the last five years, state records show.
Drug & Laboratory Disposal, Inc. released this statement about the fire Monday night:
"Drug & Laboratory Disposal, Inc. experienced a fire at its facility in Plainwell, MI today. Thanks to the quick and professional response of the emergency crews and our staff, the fire was contained to a limited portion of our processing area.
"We are grateful that no one was injured during this incident. We train regularly to handle emergency situations such as this. Our procedures worked as designed and all personnel were evacuated quickly from the facility.
"An investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing in cooperation with the appropriate authorities. We do not anticipate a break in service to our customers.
"We appreciate the support of our neighbors and surrounding community and apologize for any inconvenience this incident has caused."
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