The following is from the Athens Banner Herald (Georgia).
Fire at Talmo plant extinguished
TALMO — Firefighters were able to extinguish a fire at a private wastewater recycling plant near the Jackson-Hall county line by midday today, more than a day sooner than originally expected.
Agri-Cycle caught fire at about 3:30 p.m. Wednesday when a pump apparently sparked a fire in a grease-filled waste lagoon.
Afraid they would further pollute nearby Allen Creek, firefighters didn't douse the grease fire with chemicals, but waited through the night.
By late this morning, only the edges of the lagoon still burned, and firefighters could extinguish the last of the flames with flame-retardant foam, according to North Jackson Fire Chief Chip McEver.
"We got lucky," McEver said.
Though the 3-acre fire threatened to burn for days, firefighters declared the blaze completely extinguished at 12:40 p.m. today.
Other than the waste in the lagoon, the only thing that burned was one telephone pole.
The fire sent a 20-story column of black smoke, visible from U.S. Highway 129, into the sky above Talmo Wednesday evening.
Agri-Cycle had operated under a provisional permit from the Georgia Environmental Protection Department to process restaurant grease and poultry processing waste, but EPD yanked that provisional permit in August and ordered Agri-Cycle owner Richard Harville to close the plant and submit a plan to clean up the site. However, the plant has continued to operate pending an appeal.
Over the past several months, many residents have written letters to the EPD asking the agency to revoke Agri-Cycle's license and free them from the rancid odor and reported spills of untreated waste into Allen Creek.
"That administrative order they were issued said he was going to have to clean it up," Wayne Miller, who owns a cattle ranch adjacent to the plant, said Wednesday at the scene of the blaze. "Well, he's cleaning up all right. It's burning out of those ponds and into the air."
The EPD's order came after Talmo-area residents claimed for nearly three years that the plant was processing septic tank waste without an EPD permit, discharging some waste into an adjacent creek and making their town smell like rotting chickens.
EPD officials, in an administrative order, claimed that Agri-Cycle overloaded the spray fields it used in the last stage of waste processing, and also processed household waste without a permit, made modifications to the plant without the EPD's permission and caused at least two spills of "greasy organic solids" into Allen Creek.
The EPD order cited violations of the plant's wastewater treatment permit dating back to 2005.