Fire, explosion site under investigation
by Amanda Stegall
Apr 18, 2011 | 3254 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Following an explosion Saturday afternoon at the Metal Conversions Technologies rechargeable battery recycling center at 1 Porter St., residents who were evacuated were given the all clear to return home around 1 a.m. Sunday.

Cartersville and Bartow County fire departments worked alongside the joint HAZMAT team through the night, bringing in dirt to smother flames that could not be extinguished with water. Lithium, one of the main chemicals in the batteries, reacts to water and increased the situation Saturday for emergency personnel.

Rumors swirled of run-off contamination, but Training Chief Ronnie Cowart stated that "the area was very localized and there was a contamination concern early on, but we applied as little water as possible."

The Environmental Protection Division is working with the owner through the continuing investigation. Soil testing also will be conducted.

Although eight nearby residents checked into the emergency room at Cartersville Medical Center, their complaints of difficulty breathing were evaluated and seven patients were released while one remained for precautionary observation. No information has been released by the hospital in regards to the observed patient.

Initially, swab testing of homes was recommended for nearby residents. However, fire officials state that these tests are not required as air and water quality remains in good standing.

Owners of the company were notified and on scene most of the night as firefighters continued to control the flames.

According to the preliminary investigation, it is possible that a reaction occurred in batteries that had been shipped to the site. An official cause has not been determined as the investigation is ongoing and continual testing will be conducted at the location.

The scene has been turned over to clean-up crews and remains under investigation by the fire department and the EPD.