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Waste Site Cleanup & Reuse in New England

ABC Recycling

Emergency response at the ABC Recycling facility, located at 1245 Shawmut Avenue in New Bedford, MA

EPA responded to an incident where an unknown substance resulted in the hospitalization of several people at the ABC Recycling facility, located at 1245 Shawmut Avenue in New Bedford, MA. A 30 percent solution of sodium chlorite was the only hazardous substance in use at the facility, and the amount present is limited to two 55-gallon drums. It is used to treat waste that arrives to avoid the accumulation of hydrogen sulfide that otherwise would occur naturally. Initially, the investigation focused on a chlorine or chlorine dioxide release that might be associated with the sodium chlorite; however, monitoring did not support this. Drums were inspected and found not to be leaking. In addition, the level of liquid inside was gauged and matched the level facility personnel suggested would be present.

Attention then focused on a pile of trash that had triggered a reaction by an employee when access to a videotape of the operation at the facility was obtained. After monitoring and observing the perimeter of the pile, available heavy equipment at the facility was used to pick it apart while monitoring for any release. Visual inspection also was conducted to detect any type of chemical or chemical containers that might be the source of the prior release, one that required hospitalization of workers. Nothing was found, and the emergency response was closed.

DEP returned during daylight in a non-emergency response capacity to assure that the company was taking appropriate steps to ensure treatment equipment in the building functioned properly. OSHA and the fire department returned to assist in this effort. No assistance from EPA's emergency responders was requested by either DEP or the local fire department. No further updates were anticipated for this response.

Location: New Bedford, MA
Start date:  08/03/2009
End date: 08/04/2009
Contact: Claudia Deane (deane.claudia@epa.gov)

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