Canadian Plastics

Fire at Enviro-Tech forces evacuations, prompts criticism of plastics storage

Canadian Plastics   



A massive fire on August 15 at the plant of plastics recycler Enviro-Tech Plastics Ltd., in Amherstburg, Ont., forced almost 400 nearby residents to evacuate their homes and raised qu...

A massive fire on August 15 at the plant of plastics recycler Enviro-Tech Plastics Ltd., in Amherstburg, Ont., forced almost 400 nearby residents to evacuate their homes and raised questions about the company’s — and the industry’s — storage practices.

The fire, which began shortly after noon, grew to the size of almost two football fields and consumed an estimated 90,000 square feet of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and polypropylene (PP) in the trash outside the plant.

Plumes of smoke could be seen as far away as Detroit.

Approximately 80 firefighters were required to battle the blaze, which was brought under control by early evening. One firefighter suffered a minor foot injury, and there were no reports of injury to any of Enviro-Tech’s employees.

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Evacuated residents were allowed back into their homes later that same afternoon, once officials had determined that smoke from the blaze was not toxic.

This was the fifth fire in 11 years at Enviro-Tech, raising concerns from several quarters about the company’s methods of storing plastics.

“The way the (containers of plastic) were piled up in the plant was a big factor in the size of this fire,” Amherstburg fire chief Richard Murray said. “There wasn’t enough space between the piles and the wind was blowing it from one to another.”

Windsor, Ont. fire chief Dave Fields, whose department helped battle the blaze, called the fire “a disaster waiting to happen,” and cautioned that “if people are going to store materials like this, you can’t…store them in these quantities.”

Derek Coronado, a spokesman for the Citizen’s Environment Alliance, said that Enviro-Tech’s storage practices reflect a larger problem with plastics recycling companies across the province. “The provincial regulation for these types of companies is a problem because the province does not keep an eye on the types of materials that are stored in their warehouses,” he said. “So when we have a disaster like this, officials are starting with not enough information about what is burning in the fire.”

The exact cause of the fire had not been determined by press time.

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