N.C. Fines Chemical Company $550K over Life-Safety Concerns

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - State regulators fined a chemical storage company more than $550,000 for violations connected with an October fire that prompted a massive evacuation in the town of Apex.

The Division of Waste Management also proposed revoking the hazardous waste permit of EQ Industrial Services Inc., officials said Tuesday.

Regulators said EQ did not comply with permit conditions, including disaster preparedness and prevention, emergency procedures and record keeping. Investigators found that previous chemical reactions, fires and waste releases had occurred prior to the October fire.

The Oct. 5 blaze at EQ blanketed parts of Apex in a yellow-green haze, prompting town officials to urge as many as 17,000 people to evacuate. Residents were allowed to return two days later.

EQ has 60 days to contest or pay the fine of $553,225. The state will hold a public hearing on the hazardous waste permit.

A spokesman for Wayne, Mich.-based EQ said the company would have a comment later Tuesday.

Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.