Posted: Nov 12, 2012 8:17 PM
Updated: Nov 12, 2012 11:33 PM
EDINBURG - Fires and explosions at an Edinburg recycling center are a cause for concern for local residents. The incidents also could be releasing toxins into the air, officials said.
The business, Ecorec Rio Grande Valley Inc., is near Edinburg North High School. One local business owner said pollutants from the center may pose a health risk for the students.
"There've been occasions when there's softball games going on, and explosions go off," Ernesto Rosales said. He owns a business across the street from the recycling center.
The business recycles cars, among other things. Gasoline in the gas tanks posses a risk for explosions. Firefighters have been called to the business five times this year.
The business is across the street from a restaurant and a mobile telephone business.
"The city has grown around the plant. ... It used to be open area," Edinburg Fire Chief Shawn Snider said.
Snider said the landscape around the recycling plant has changed, now it's time for the business to change.
"We have had fires big enough that we've had to evacuate Lull Subdivision, which is to the northwest of the location," Snider said. "The smoke is so heavy you literally can't see down the streets."
Nearby business owners said they've become accustomed to the explosions and fires.
Myra Soleis said the smoke sometimes blows into her restaurant. Rosales said the wind blows in their direction 90 percent of the time. The wind covers his parking lot with a lint-like material. He said it contains fiberglass.
"You can clean it, and come back a week later and it's there again," Rosales said.
"I think a kid's going to come down with some sort of cancer, some sort of disease that nobody can explain and it's going to be linked to this stuff that's here," he said.
"The biggest concern is you're literally burning cars ... It's the by-products of all the pieces that make up a car. A lot of petroleum, a lot of plastics, a lot of rubber ... it gives off pretty significant smoke and it's toxic ... can hurt you," Snider said.
Rosales wants the city to step in and help the facility move.
"There needs to be some ... money given to them ... maybe if they have 30 acres here, give them 40 acres" somewhere else, Rosales said.
Ecorec declined an interview. They said they are working to reduce fires in their yard. They said nearby businesses or residents have never complained about health issues.
The fire department issued a stop-work order until issues with the equipment and facility are resolved. The fire chief said he reported the fires to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.