Workers clean up charred debris in neighborhoods near warehouse

EPA: Do not pick up debris without gloves

INDIANAPOLIS - Workers started the process of cleaning up the toxic materials that were scattered across neighborhoods after last Saturday’s Belmont Avenue warehouse fire.

Health officials were concerned about the paper debris that contained asbestos that had spread both nearby and as far as several miles away.

Employees of an environmental remediation company spread out over the neighborhoods near the warehouse to start cleaning up the debris Sunday.

The Marion County Health Department ordered the owner of the building to clean up the debris, and the Environmental Protection Agency also became involved to make sure that the materials containing asbestos were picked up before they were reduced to fine particles that could be inhaled.

“We will also be doing remediation of asbestos inside the plant, but right now, we’re focusing on the stuff outside in the neighborhoods,” said Jaime Brown with the EPA.

On Friday, officials warned citizens not to touch the material and added that cutting grass or walking on the material could release harmful fibers into the air.

“Some of it is paper-like and given the right conditions, it’s possible that some of it could be as far away as seven miles,” Brown said.

The EPA said workers will scour neighborhoods and collect the debris containing asbestos as long as necessary.

Investigators will continue their investigation into the cause and origin of the fire.

Health officials said that anyone who finds charred debris should wear protective gloves, pour water on the debris and dispose of the material in a plastic bag.

Officials with the EPA said they believed most of the debris in question was confined to neighborhoods near the warehouse.

 

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