A two alarm chemical fire at a Marietta warehouse on May 23, 2014 is being investigated by the EPA and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources after a broad fish-kill occurred along a five-mile stretch of nearby Sope Creek. Some contend that a combination of chemicals released during the fire caused the fish-kill. Zep, Inc, which owned the warehouse, produces professional grade cleaning chemicals and lubricants, and has acknowledged storing several hundred chemicals in the warehouse.
Speaking about the chemicals, Cobb Fire Battalion Chief Scott Demkowski admitted “we honestly don’t know which were released.” The fire burned for eight hours during which time only residents within a mile radius of the site were evacuated. Authorities did not evacuate a larger area around the fire because air testing did not reveal the presence of toxins; however, authorities admit that toxins may have escaped between the start of the fire and the two hour delay before testing the air. Possibly released into the surrounding areas during this time were toxins like:
- sulfuric acid
Colleen Kiernan, director of the Sierra Club’s Georgia chapter noted about these chemicals, “all …are hazardous to our health and become even more dangerous when they catch on fire.” Sulfuric acid is extremely dangerous—it is often fatal when inhaled, and will cause an accumulation of fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema), as well as nose and throat irritation. Toluene is also dangerous, and can be fatal, depending on the amount inhaled.
The environmental effects of the fire are still being investigated. The community is doing its best to ensure that the impact of the fire is minimized, and experts are trying to understand if the fish kill was due to the release of hazardous chemicals – and if that is an early indicator of a greater health risk to the Marietta community.
Symptoms of chemical exposure can be as minor as a recurring cough or nose/throat irritation – but they can mask serious lung injury. If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, and you think they are related to the fire at Zep’s Amrep warehouse, you may be entitled to compensation for your injury. Toxic chemical exposure cases are notoriously difficult to prosecute. Fortunately, Atlanta-area residents have an attorney nearby with extensive experience in chemical exposure cases. The law firm of W. Winston Briggs has dealt with chemical exposure cases throughout the US, and knows what to look for in filling a claim. If you think you have been affected by this disaster, contact our law firm for a free case evaluation.