Fire breaks out at Arkansas hazardous-waste burning plant

EL DORADO, Ark. - A fire at a hazardous-waste incineration plant forced hundreds of residents to evacuate Sunday, officials said.

No injuries were reported, and officials were monitoring air quality as thick smoke rose from the Teris plant in southern Arkansas, said Union County Sheriff Ken Jones.

Police estimated about 1,500 people within a few miles of the plant were evacuated, including some in this city of about 23,000.

Jones said the fire began Sunday morning at the plant east of El Dorado, apparently at a warehouse that stores hazardous waste. Residents reported hearing a series of explosions and one person said it rattled the windows of his home.

Doug Riley, vice president of operations for El Dorado-based Teris LLC, said firefighting efforts were continuing Sunday afternoon. Thirty people were working at the plant when the fire broke out.

Teris disposes of hazardous wastes from industries and government operations around the country. The plant receives spent solvents, waste oils, chlorinated hydrocarbons, herbicides and insecticides, as well as dirt, residues and contaminated water from cleanup activities from other sites.

Sunday church services were canceled, and authorities were advising people not to use their air conditioners and to keep their doors shut as a precaution.

Residents of two nursing homes were evacuated to churches. Shelters were set up at other churches for people displaced from their homes.

About 150 inmates from the county jail were evacuated to a school gymnasium eight miles outside of town, Jones said. The sheriff said the inmates would be moved to another jail if they couldn't return Sunday night.


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