Fire debris cleanup awaiting DEQ’s OK

Published 5:00 am Monday, August 13, 2007

The rubble from the remains of the May 24 downtown Brookhavenfire sat quietly Monday morning, with Bobby Britt and his crewawaiting word from the Department of Environmental Quality on adump site destination for the debris.

“The status this morning is that we’ve been waiting on DEQ, andthey told Mr. Lofton that this material can be taken to a Class Blandfill,” said Bobby Britt, who has been contracted by propertyowner Chid Lofton to clean up the rubble. “The problem is thatthere’s not one in the area. The closest one is Natchez, which getscost prohibitive.”

Britt said a Class B landfill is different than Class I or IIlandfills, which handle general rubbish from the side of theroad.

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“The Class I and II are for rubbish like tree limbs and stuffpicked up by the city. This material has to be handled differentlyand the classification depends on how they handle it at thelocation and if they have the equipment to handle it,” he said.

Britt said he met with Mayor Bob Massengill and BuildingInspector Walter Temple Friday afternoon to try to come up with asolution, and to try to get back on the project as soon aspossible.

“We’re all trying to get our heads together to see what we cando to make this happen,” he said. “We’ve got a call into TomFortenberry at DEQ. It’s got to happen somehow or another.”

Fortenberry said the investigation is public record and isaccessible from their main office. However, the report is notfinished in its entirety.

“The report has not been generated in its completeness, and anyinvestigation or response action that we do requires time, with allthe principle parties contacted and all the information gatheringdone,” he said. “The completion of that project is an opendate.”

He did confirm that DEQ has been in discussion with all theprinciple parties, but did not say who those parties were.

Britt said he had hoped to have his workers back on site today.Part of the issue with the landfill classification for the downtownrubble involves the asbestos in the rubble. While it must behandled differently than regular rubble, Britt says it poses noreal threat to passers-by.

“This is as hazardous as someone smoking a cigarette down thestreet,” he said, adding that the actual risk is injury tounauthorized people who do not keep a distance from the site.

“There’s no hazard as long as people keep their distance and letus do our thing,” he said. “Stay out of the rubble; we really don’twant anyone hurt onsite, for their own safety, but also forliability issues.”

He said also the threat to the crew is minimal as there areprecautions they can take against the ashes and dust of thewreckage.

“As long as we take the necessary precautions, you can breathethe ashes and stuff like I have for days and be fine,” he said.

Britt said once he and his crew can get back to work, theremainder of the cleanup shouldn’t take long.

“When I can get it OK’ed it should only take a few more days,”he said. “These people make the rules and I have to follow them.But me and Mr. Lofton and the city are all wanting to get this doneas soon as possible.”