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  February 23, 2007

Hercules Catches Fire, Again

By Daniel Parshley


I have to admit, it really did not come as much of a surprise when I was driving by the Hercules Plant and saw another fire in the wood chips pile on February 23rd. What did concern me was that there was no one there to put it out and it was getting bigger by the minute. 

On Sunday, February 18th, the same wood chip pile had caught fire and burned long enough -- and the fire got large enough -- that Hercules had to call the Brunswick Fire Department for additional equipment to get the situation under control.  Hercules representatives were quoted in The Brunswick News saying, "...the fire was a natural result of the conditions at the plant."  I do agree: the conditions at the plant are conducive to fires, explosions, and spills of toxic chemicals, which have happened over 175 times since 1990.


As I watched the fire grow, I did expect someone from Hercules to come and get the fire under control, since they were quoted earlier in the paper saying, "We have policies in place that address these situations."  More time went by and I weighed my options.  Call 911?  Before long, a Brunswick police officer came by; I flagged her down and pointed out the situation at hand.  She drove to Hercules and told them they had another fire.  Soon heavy equipment and a fire truck arrived and got the situation under control.

Hercules also assures us that they have policies in place to address chemical spills and their 39 toxic waste sites.

Much of what Hercules says does not pass the laugh test.  Too often, a citizen, nurse, or school principal, has called in a complaint about chemicals being released from the Hercules Plant.  Only after the Georgia Environmental Protection Division called did Hercules send someone out into the plant to find the chemical leak or spill.  What would have happened if I had not reported this fire?  Probably another citizen would have reported it.  And then it dawned on me: when Hercules said they have policies in place that address these situations, the policy in place is to wait until a citizen reports a problem.



Hercules putting out another fire in the wood chip pile on the north side of L Street


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