Wood County to send IEI fire bills to state

PARKERSBURG — The Wood County Commission is collecting the final billings for the IEI Plastics warehouse fire to present them to the state next week.

The commission plans to hand in its completed billing for the fire response to the West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety (DMAPS) Secretary Jeff Sandy by the end of the commission meeting on Monday.

Early estimates have the cost of the response to the fire at over $1.5 million.

Fire ripped through the facility, owned by the Naik group of companies, on Camden Avenue in the early morning hours of Oct. 21. The fire was extinguished on Oct. 29. Gov. Jim Justice committed state money to help pay for the cost of fighting the fire.

Commission President Blair Couch has assurances from Sandy the county will get the money from the state.

“There is a huge outlay of money that we have to get squared away,” he said. (Without Jim Justice’s support) the fire would still be burning.”

Couch also wants the county to send a certified copy of the final bill to the Naiks. County officials still expect the Naiks and their insurance carrier to reimburse the state.

The Plan of Corrective Action to clean up the site was due from the Naiks last Monday, according to DMAPS officials. IEI has requested and received a one-week extension, to allow its newly retained contractor to evaluate the site.

“They have allowed them another week and moved the goal post to allow the Naiks to get their stuff together,” Couch said.

The plan is now due on Monday as well.

Area resident Christine Dodd addressed the commission Thursday saying her concern remains what was being stored at the facility that burned down.

The contents of the warehouse have been a significant concern to state and local officials and area residents as the fire burned for more than a week, sending plumes of smoke and noxious fumes into the air.

That continues to concern Dodd.

“That is a concern of ours as well,” Couch said.

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection recently released documents provided by IEI Plastics representatives that represent the contents of the IEI site when the fire broke out. However, WVDEP officials said these records did not satisfy the order that requires IEI to provide a detailed inventory.

More documents were released and are being reviewed by officials.

The West Virginia DEP and the West Virginia Fire Marshal have been pushing the Naiks about supplying an inventory to officials, Couch said.

Continual testing of the IEI site will have to be done as preparations are made to clean up the site.

“We are still a ways off from when they take the first bucket out of there,” Couch said. “When they do that it will be a grand day.”

Groups and government entities are continuing to do testing in and around the site.

Some testing results are due in a couple of weeks, officials said.

Couch said sampling of a lot of material at the site has been done but they haven’t gone deep into the middle of the building yet.

Someone will have to test the material there before any dumping facility or landfill will accept it, he said.

“EPA is closely monitoring this situation,” he said. “The EPA and the (WV)DEP instructed the Naiks they must sample at all phases of this removal. They have to do air quality monitoring because they are going to be kicking up dust.

“You must be doing constant wiping tests and surface testing before the landfill would accept it,” Couch said.

Couch said the Naiks would be financially responsible for the testing.

“They need to know what is where and where it can be dumped,” Commissioner Jimmy Colombo said. “They are going to test as much of it as they can to see where they will be able to put it.”

The Wood County Commission wants to institute a project that would collect private donations to create a plaque detailing the fire departments that responded to the IEI Plastics warehouse fire. It would name each department and include their shields. The county is thinking about placing it in Bicentennial Park.

Commissioner Robert Tebay wants to see something done to preserve an oral history of the response to the fire.

The county is also looking to organize a picnic next spring to allow the community to thank the firefighters for the job they did in fighting the fire. The county is looking at raising that money also through private donations.

Couch commended the departments involved in fighting the fire for their professionalism and cooperation.

COMMENTS