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Federal Emergency Responders Investigate Salinas Explosion

Release Date: 06/03/2009
Contact Information: - Monterey County Health Department Public Information Officer, Karen Smith, 831-755-4639 - U.S. EPA Public Information Officer Mary Simms, (415) 947-4270, - California Department of Fish and Game, Public Information Officer, Harry Morse, (916) 322-8962

U.S. EPA has joined the multi-agency response

(6/3/2009 -- SAN FRANCISCO) -- Emergency responders from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, California Department of Fish and Game, Monterey County, and the Salinas Fire Department are working together to cleanup, investigate and assess environmental hazards that resulted from a May 29th explosion at a large warehouse in a Salinas, California industrial park.

    Following the explosion, a structure on Dayton Street caught fire Friday evening. Fire crews responded to the incident within 5 minutes and acted quickly to fully contain the fire. One person received minor injuries and several buildings in the vicinity of the explosion were damaged.

    Approximately 500 thousand gallons of liquids were discharged into a nearby storm drain, which leads to a reclamation ditch and eventually to Elkhorn Slough in Moss Landing. The affected section of the ditch extends from Dayton Road to near Work Street.

    Emergency responders have contained the contaminated water and are evaluating how to quickly cleanup the affected area in advance of predicted rain. Officials are taking water samples to monitor the green liquid in the ditch that runs for nearly 4 miles through Salinas.

    Federal, state and local experts from multiple agencies are working together to quickly asses and complete clean up efforts. The EPA is providing technical assistance on issues including sample collection and analysis, assessment activities and water treatment system design.

    The affected area is posted and people are encouraged to stay away. Businesses and residents in the immediate vicinity of the ditch have been asked to temporarily curtail water discharge to the storm drain system.

    The cause of the chemical explosion is currently under investigation.

    Work being done at the site today includes:

    -Building an additional earthen dam to restrict reclamation water and contain overflow in a holding pond
    -Reinforcing earth dams which are keeping the water from flowing out of the reclamation ditch
    -Mobilizing equipment for filtering and treatment of the tainted water
    -Key culverts are being blocked to prevent water from heading toward the Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary
    -Reducing additional waters from flowing into the reclamation ditch
    -Monitoring weather issues as rain will impact the water levels in the reclamation ditch.