EPA: Omaha chemical fire testing found ‘concerning’ levels of lead, heavy metals, volatile compounds

Elements found in soil, water samples but not in wipe, ash, and debris samples
A report from the EPA concerning the fire last month at the Knox Crete warehouse in Omaha.
Published: Jun. 15, 2022 at 8:49 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The Environmental Protection Agency said some lead, heavy metals, and “volatile organic compounds” were found in samples collected days after a chemical fire that left an Omaha business smoldering on Memorial Day.

The EPA released its report Wednesday on the Nox-Crete fire, noting:

  • Wipe and ash/debris sample data collected were all below a level of concern.
  • Soil sample data at one location resulted in “a lead concentration above a level of concern.” However, “EPA’s initial review of the data indicates the soil lead concentration found is consistent with previous sampling performed at the property.”
  • Samples of pooled water collected at and near the facility contained “some detections above a level of concern for heavy metals and volatile organic compounds.” The report did not say what those metals or compounds were.

On request of the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy, the EPA deployed personnel to determine whether any contamination occurred as a result of the explosive fire that erupted at Nox-Crete Inc. facility. Those crews collected samples around the area between June 1-3 in order to determine whether any dangerous substances had been released by the fire.

“This data has been provided to the NDEE in support of their oversight of the Nox-Crete’s stormwater management work,” the release states.

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services previously confirmed there was no asbestos present in the debris from the chemical fire, noting that Nox-Crete had told state agencies that asbestos material had been removed from the facility in 1993.

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