The Environmental Protection Agency’s work to clean up part of the site of the April 11 plastics fire in Richmond has begun as of Nov. 6, and is expected to last through the summer of 2024. That’s according to Allen Jarrell, the on-scene coordinator for the EPA, who addressed media at a Nov. 14 press conference held near the site on the city’s northwest side.

EPA crews will remove potentially asbestos-containing material and fire debris across an 8-acre area, expecting to leave an empty lot behind when they’re done. Still, Jarrell said debris not affected by the fire or that did not test positive for hazardous substances would remain and be others’ responsibility to remove.

Jarrell said the process will include procedures to ensure the safety of workers as well as the community. A combination of air monitoring equipment, dust suppression steps and decontamination equipment will mean that the cleanup should not pose any risk to surrounding properties or the public.

The cost of EPA’s work is estimated at $3,350,000.

Jarrell said in over 20 years of similar project work, he’s never seen a “perfect removal” and cautioned that the process is subject to weather delays, unexpected findings below the debris and the availability of needed containers to transport material.

The first few months of work will involve rinsing off metal that can be salvaged and shipping it off for recycling. The remainder of the effort will involve sending contaminated debris to EPA-approved landfills and disposal facilities in Indiana and Ohio.

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A version of this article appeared in the November 22 2023 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Chris Hardie is the owner and publisher of the Western Wayne News.