ATI Wah Chang faces $6,300 fine after hazardous waste fire

Photo by Ty Swayngim

A pile of zirconium and magnesium caught fire Aug. 28, 2018.

Posted: Jan. 23, 2019 1:22 PM
Updated: Jan. 23, 2019 1:24 PM

ALBANY, Ore. -- ATI Wah Chang is facing a $6,300 fine for hazardous waste violations after an investigation into a fire at the Millersburg facility last year, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality said.

A pile of zirconium and magnesium caught fire Aug. 28, 2018, and the flames spread to a nearby field burning several acres between the manufacturing facility and the Talking Water Gardens, a recreation area. The gardens and Simpson Park were evacuated.

READ MORE: Five-alarm fire leads to evacuations in Millersburg

The DEQ cited TDY Industries LLC, which does business as ATI Wah Chang, for “failing to do a complete and accurate hazardous waste determination” on the waste that caught fire.

The company has been fined for similar violations in the past, the DEQ said.

In calculating the fine, the DEQ said they took into account the ways the company tried to address the violation and prevent it from recurring.

There are strict requirements to properly identify, store and dispose of hazardous waste, the DEQ said.

TDY Industries has until Feb. 4 to appeal the penalty.

RELATED: Fire near Talking Water Gardens shocks Albany-area residents

The August fire sent up thick smoke, but a spokesperson for ATI Wah Chang said the fire burned on property they owned and no one was injured.

Leading up to the fire, 0 to 30 cubic yards of waste from the facility’s zirconium reduction process was stored in two piles outdoors, DEQ officials said. They said zirconium and magnesium fines have the possibility of catching on fire when wet. As the piles were moved, hydrogen gas that had accumulated reacted and started the fire.

The DEQ said the facility generated more than 2,200 pounds of hazardous paste on a monthly basis in 2018.

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