Air samples from Barwick Mill in Lafayette negative for asbestos
WALKER COUNTY, GA (WRCB) -
The smoke may be gone but the Environmental Protection Agency continues to collect samples from the site of a large mill fire in Lafayette. The EPA has also brought in a federal health agency to answer questions from the public.
The old Barwick Mill went up in flames Saturday afternoon. A company was using the building to store chemicals used in the textile industry.
If anything, Wednesday's rain is helping clear the air around the mill. The EPA says it has taken multiple samples and so far everything is looking safe.
"The first day it was not healthy is how it came back. it wasn't hazardous. but it came back not healthy," says Angela Miller with the EPA.
From day one the EPA started taking air samples from four different sites around the old Barwick Mill, one of those was mobile.
"It literally was in one of the vans and we rode it around and we would purposefully ride through a big plume," says Miller.
Firefighters have doused the fire with thousands of gallons of water around the clock since Saturday.
"We're getting rain today which is a huge plus."
The rain has helped clear the air of any particles.
"Each day it just got better and today it's very good. All of our data's coming back really good today," says Miller.
"Particulate matter is an irritant. It's not a contaminant," says Leann Bing with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.
Bing has been passing out flyers to the public to fill them in on any potential health effects from breathing in the smoke. Some of those include coughing and having trouble breathing.
"When you have the smoke coming out, I'm asthmatic myself, it would have definitely irritated me being out there in the smoke. It's a little scary having all the smoke. But it's fine now," says Bing.
Now the attention turns to cleaning up the rubble. A private environmental company has been brought in to help.
"Because there is a responsible party they would be responsible for doing that," says Miller.
The EPA tested the air samples for signs of asbestos. Those came back negative.
It is still waiting to get results back on water samples. The EPA says calcium carbonate being stored in the mill caused the runoff water to have a milky color, which is relatively harmless.