Cleanup continues near Shelbyville explosion site - WSMV Channel 4

Cleanup continues near Shelbyville explosion site

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SHELBYVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Three days after a biofuel explosion in Shelbyville, the town is still trying to mop up the mess, and that includes cleaning up some potentially dangerous chemicals.

Fire investigators have confirmed the worker hurt, with burns on half his body, is Mike DiNovo, a chemist for Southern Energy Co.

At the scene Wednesday, the bulk of the work happened behind the building, as crews tried to keep the mess contained.

"It'll be something that people will remember for a long time," said Shelbyville Public Works Director Mark Clanton.

The city brought in environmental experts with their sights set on a nearby retention pond. The flood of water used to douse Monday's fire carried chemicals dangerously close to the Duck River.

Some 90 minutes after the fire started, public works closed the pond's gates to keep contaminated water from escaping.

"It was just precaution, because we didn't know what we was dealing with," Clanton said.

It still remains unclear what all is in the fluid, but their best guess is it includes waste water, cooking oil and biodiesel.

Thanks to pumps and a set of large tanks, workers have disposed of about 300,000 gallons of the dirty water.

They also dug up a ditch, worried about possible groundwater contamination.

"We'll do the same thing with the basin area over here. All the ground, surface ground, will all be dug up and put back in place with all new," Clanton said. "It's not going to be a cheap process here. Anything you're dealing with issues with erosion control or any kind of contaminants like that, it's always not a cheap fix."

Taxpayers shouldn't worry. Southern Energy, or more likely its insurance company, will foot the bill.

As for the cause, insurance and engineering inspectors arrived to the scene Wednesday, trying to determine what failed in a fuel transfer system that caused chemicals to overflow and ignite, sparking several days worth of trouble.

Because it took a while to close the gates on the retention pond, the public works director acknowledged some of the chemicals got into the Duck River.

Luckily, they tested water downstream, and everything came back just fine.

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