Chemical fire spawns fish kill, criminal investigation

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by BRETT SHIPP

WFAA

Posted on December 2, 2011 at 11:39 PM

Magnablend fire location

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WAXAHACHIE - Since that massive chemical plant fire in Waxahachie two months ago, local residents have been assured there was no cause for health concerns.

News 8 has learned of not only a major fish kill in a nearby pond, but of a criminal investigation into actions at the plant in the wake of the fire.

We have learned both the EPA and Texas Commission on Environmental Quality have opened investigations into conditions at the Magnablend plant in Waxahachie before and after the Oct. 3rd fire. The TCEQ has assigned an investigator from its Environmental Crimes division to explore potential violations of Texas criminal statues in association with the fire. The EPA is exploring possible violations of environmental guidelines.

No one was injured in the fire, but toxic fracking chemicals spilled out of the plant, washing into drainage ditches and eventually, a chain of ponds once fished by resident Bryan Thomas.

"There has always been catfish, sunfish and your bass were in there," Thomas said.

Now the only thing alive in the ponds is a nearly indescribable stench. But Thomas gave it a go.

"Dead fish, rotten egg, almost like a tire smell, you know?" Thomas said.

Publicly, local and state officials have downplayed any environmental fallout from the fire.

But News 8 has learned that on Oct. 25, state officials discovered every fish, about 1,800 of them, dead, belly-up in the pond, which is now a darkened and toxic soup.

And now that the EPA has tested these waters, Thomas knows just how bad it is.

“The EPA found aluminum to be over the toxic limit, they found copper to be over the toxic limit, they found manganese to be over the toxic limit," Thomas said.

Plant officials have not responded to News 8’s request for comment. Federal and state officials say they cannot comment while the investigations are ongoing.

But those living with the stench and near the waste say the silence is as disturbing as the dead waters.

"That this is dangerous and nobody is mentioning it,” Thomas said. “They are not explaining the health hazards that are in the water and the fumes that are coming off of this water."

E-mail bshipp@wfaa.com

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