116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
The Iowa Attorney General’s Office is suing C6-Zero and its owner to force action on an emergency order to clean up a Marengo explosion site.
“The suit seeks to prevent imminent threat to public health and the environment arising from a devastating explosion and fire at the C6-Zero facility on Dec. 8, 2022,” Attorney General Brenna Bird’s office said in a prepared statement Wednesday.
The lawsuit, filed in Iowa County, asks a judge to grant a temporary and permanent injunction to force C6-Zero and owner Howard Brand III to comply with a Dec. 15 emergency order from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, identify all chemicals at the site and allow the DNR access to the facility.
C6-Zero describes itself as a recycler of used asphalt shingles, with Brand attempting to use a proprietary solvent to dissolve the shingles into component parts of oil, sand and fiberglass.
The Marengo plant, which opened in 2020 and had about 30 employees, was in a pilot phase when liquid solvent in a tank exploded Dec. 8 and started a fire. Between 10 and 15 people were treated for injuries at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, and neighbors living near the facility were briefly evacuated.
EcoSource, a Des Moines-based firm, started cleanup at the site Dec. 14, using vacuum trucks to gather 31,000 gallons of petroleum products and water from the parking lot and loading bay and store it in two large steel tanks.
Water tests Dec. 9 showed a drainage ditch near the plant had diesel levels of 28,000 milligrams per liter, more than 12 times higher than the state standard for stormwater of 2,200 milligrams per liter.
Benzene and waste oil also exceeded state standards.
EcoSource, which completed an environmental site assessment plan for C6-Zero, estimated it could clean up the site by March, but the DNR’s emergency order said the job needed to be done by January.
“DNR is not aware of any activities by representatives or agents of C6-Zero at the facility since Dec. 16, 2022, directed at analyzing, securing or removing solid waste, contaminated water or contaminated soil from the facility property,” the lawsuit states.
“Due to a clear and immediate threat to the environment and public health caused by the explosion and fire at the facility, combined with the inaction and inadequate actions of C6-Zero in response to the DNR’s Emergency Order, on Dec. 15, 2022, DNR Director Kayla Lyon requested the Iowa Attorney General ‘take all legal action necessary to ensure compliance with the emergency order and Iowa law.’ ”
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