Fire Extinguished at Ellis County Chemical Plant

Fire tapped out at about 3 p.m.

A fire broke out inside a storage tank at a chemical plant in the Ellis County town of Bardwell Wednesday.

Brian Wodetzki, spokesman for Pencco, a national distributor of inorganic coagulants that treat drinking water and wastewater, said the fire started at about noon inside a vessel containing ferrous sulfate.

Wodetzki said there were no evacuations at their Bardwell facility, located at 6555 West Highway 34, and that all employees were accounted for with no injuries reported.

From Chopper 5, fire was visible at the top of an interior storage tank.  For about three hours, firefighters could be seen dousing the vessel with fire retardant and what appeared to be water.

The flames would fall and the fire would appear to go out, only to reignite a short time later.  Just after 3 p.m., NBC 5 learned the fire had been tapped out for good.

According to the company's Material Safety Data Sheet on ferrous sulfate, the solution does not burn but may decompose upon heating to produce corrosive and/or toxic fumes.

Wodetzki said an investigation into what started the fire is underway.

Pencco History

According to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, they cited Pencco for two violations on July 17, 2012 and fined them $1,575. Pencco resolved the violations and paid an administrative penalty.

The TCEQ lists four complaints lodged against the Pencco Bardwell site over air quality and spilled liquids between 2009 and 2012. All of the complaints were closed.

The company has three active permits for the site, all of which are in good standing.

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