EMA: No threat in Wallace

Published 10:25 pm Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Dozens of containers stacked for travel have shown up at the railroad crossing in the Wallace community, and some area residents are concerned.

Ray Marion, who lives within a half mile of the railroad tracks in Wallace, said the containers started arriving early last week.

“They started bring them in on Monday or Tuesday last week,” Marion said. “I talked to some of the workers and they said it was hazardous waste.”

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Although the material loaded into the containers was classified as hazardous waste, county officials have determined the material is inactive and poses no threats to anyone or to the environment.

Escambia County Commissioner Larry White, who serves the district 3, which includes the Wallace community, said the calls from residents prompted an investigation into the situation.

“When I received a call from a local citizen about the situation we took steps immediately to look into what was going on,” White said. “The county’s environmental officer and our EMA director were called in to look at and assess the situation.”

White said an investigation by officials trained to recognize hazards determined there were no issues with the material bring brought into Wallace.

Escambia County’s EMA Director David Adams said the material has been classified as non-hazardous and won’t be a problem to people or the environment.

“This material is basically soil that is being removed from a demolished site at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola,” Adams said. “It has been classified as non-hazardous materials and is listed as non-regulated material by the Department of Transportation.”

Adams said the material is soil being removed from an area where a paint facility once stood at NAS Pensacola. The transfer of the soil is the result of remediation of the project at NAS.

“The soil originally wasn’t going to be removed because it didn’t pose a hazard at the site,” Adams said. “However, some stimulus funds came through to remediate some projects in that area and the decision was made to go ahead and remove the soil.”

Adams said workers began transporting the soil last week to the County Road 40 crossing of the Alabama Railway line in the Wallace community.

“Workers have off-loaded the soil into steel containers that have been lined with plastic,” Adams said. “The material is not hazardous, but even if it were, those containers are certainly sufficient to contain anything that could have been a problem. I can assure you that if we had felt anything posed a danger to the citizens of this county, we would certainly be taking this further.”

White said he is satisfied with the results of the investigation by Adams and is pleased to know residents in the area are safe.

“The material was determined to be inactive and poses no threat to anyone in the area and is not an environmental threat either,” White said. “We went right to work on this to make sure the residents in the area felt safe and we were assured no problems existed. It is our responsibility to look out for the residents of this county and that’s what we did.”

Adams said plans for the materials transportation includes offloading from the Alabama Railway to the CSX Railway and finally to Union Pacific Railways to be disposed of in Idaho at an approved disposal site.