Weaver Fertilizer Plant Fire

 
Site Contact:
Kenneth Rhame
FOSC

(rhame.kenneth@epa.gov)

Site Location:
4440 N Cherry St
Winston-Salem, NC 27105
epaosc.org/weaverfertilizerplantfire
NRC#: 1327817

February 8, 2022 Update
On the evening of January 31, 2022, Region 4 received notification of a large fire at a fertilizer plant located at 4440 North Cherry Street Winston-Salem, NC. Region 4’s outposted On-Scene Coordinator (OSC) and telephone Duty Officer remained in constant contact with local responders and the fire battalion chief during that time. On February 1, 2022, the state of NC requested EPA’s assistance with air monitoring and water sampling.  A precautionary one-mile evacuation radius resulted in approximately 25 persons seeking shelter with reports of additional persons arriving. Winston-Salem government officials urged residents within a one-mile radius of the plant to evacuate. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

EPA concluded on-the-ground support but will continue providing remote support to the state and local agencies. While on the ground, EPA resources included two emergency response field staff, as well as technical and contractor support. EPA also established four fixed and one roving air monitoring station(s) and collected water samples to analyze for potential impacts from firefighting water runoff into surface waters. Sampling data from these activities can be found under the Documents tab on this page. Future sampling data will be made available by contacting the hotline manned by Winston Weavers consultants, PhD toxicologists at 866-412-7768. It is staffed from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern Time to address health effects and risk concerns from the community. 

EPA Region 4 will continue to communicate with state counterparts at the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ) and North Carolina Emergency Management. All press inquiries will be directed to and handled by Minor Barnette, Director, Office of Environmental Assistance and Protection, Forsyth County Government Center 201 North Chestnut Street, Winston-Salem, NC 27101, Main (336) 703-2440, Direct (336) 703-2441. State and Local Public Health Agencies approved the use of a Potentially Responsible Party-lead hotline at (866) 412-7768 to address health effects and risk concerns from the community.

Background on Response
At approximately 8 p.m. on Jan. 31, a large fire was reported at the Weaver Fertilizer Plant located at 4440 North Cherry Street, Winston-Salem, NC. The local Fire Department responded. Initially, A one-mile voluntary evacuation radius was established by the Winston-Salem Fire Department due to possible explosion hazard. The Fire Department ceased firefighting operations and pulled back personnel due to concerns of potential explosion of the ammonium nitrate.

During the morning of February 1, the State of NC requested EPA's assistance with air monitoring and surface water sampling. Two Region 4 OSCs along with EPA contractor resources provided ammonia, nitrous oxide, and particulate air monitoring support to the incident. EPA resources will coordinate with the Local Incident Commander and provide data to support decision making and protect human health and the environment.

On February 2, Unified Command conducted a thorough assessment of one rail car containing ammonium nitrate located within the plant. The assessment determined that the rail car was not damaged during the incident, and no longer presented an explosion threat.

On February 3, Unified Command reduced the initial evacuation from an one-mile radius to an eighth of a mile radius. This new evacuation zone does not contain any residences and all previously evacuated residents were allowed to reoccupy their homes.

The EPA will continue to conduct air monitoring activities as long as fire suppression operations are impacting communities surrounding the Weaver Fertilizer Plant. The public may access EPA's air monitoring data by clicking the below links. 

Returning Home After a Chemical Fire Fact Sheet

Regresando a casa después de un incendio con químicos (Hoja de Información)

PM2.5 Community Action Threshold Levels

EPA Air Monitoring Summary Tables for Weaver Fertilizer Plant Fire

Site conditions have improved and EPA stopped conducting air monitoring operations as of 6 a.m., February 6. The air monitoring operations have transitioned from the EPA to the Potentially Responsible Party, Winston Weaver Co.'s environmental contractor under the  direction and guidance of State and local environmental agencies.