Chemical fire in Brunswick, Georgia forces residents to evacuate

Firefighters attempt to put out a toxic fire at a plastics plant in Brunswick, Georgia, April 15, 2023. [Photo: Effingham Fire Rescue]

A fire broke out early Saturday morning in a Brunswick, Georgia facility that manufactures rosin and polyterpene resins. It was later put out, only to reignite later in the day, forcing evacuations of residents in the area.

This is the second industrial fire in one week in the United States that forced the evacuation of local homes. On Tuesday, a recycling facility in Richmond, Indiana burned, forcing residents to evacuate as burning plastic released plumes of toxins into the air.

A series of dangerous chemical fires, explosions and other deadly industrial accidents have taken place in the United States in the aftermath of February’s derailment and toxic chemical spill of a Norfolk Southern train in East Palestine, Ohio. On March 28, a chemical spill in Bristol, Pennsylvania leaked about 8,100 gallons of a latex emulsion product into the Delaware River, threatening the water supply of Philadelphia and surrounding areas. On the same day, a chocolate factory in West Reading, Pennsylvania exploded due to a gas leak, killing seven workers.

The initial fire at the Brunswick plant, which is operated by chemical manufacturer Pinova, was reported at 7 a.m. By 9:55 a.m., the Glynn County Board of Commissioners reported that the fire was contained and was being monitored. “Brunswick City Fire and Glynn County Fire continue to monitor [sic] scene,” a Facebook post from the County read. “The fire is now contained. There were no injuries. There is NO immediate concern for public safety. The State Fire Marshall is on scene for inspection as well as [sic] Environmental Protection Agency and EMA.”

But at 3:10 p.m. the County Board posted on Facebook that the fire had reignited and that a shelter-in-place order was in effect for a half-mile radius of the plant. By 4:30 p.m. the Board had extended the shelter-in-place order out to a one-mile radius. An hour later, residents within a half-mile radius of the plant were told to leave their homes due to the high levels of smoke produced by the fire. The County Board declared the fire was finally out at 10:08 p.m. and residents were allowed to return to their homes.

An evacuation order was issued in Brunswick, Georgia on Saturday due to a massive fire at the nearby plastic resin plant. [Photo: Effingham Fire Rescue]

Details are not available about what caused the fire or what chemicals were involved in it; however, several buildings were involved in the conflagration, reports say. No injuries have been reported.

This is the second fire at a chemical plant in Brunswick, Georgia in five months. Last November, residents were forced to evacuate the area around Symrise chemical plant when a fire broke out during a shift change at 4 a.m. After two explosions during the fire, residents within a one-mile radius were ordered to evacuate and those in a three-mile radius of the fire were told to shelter in place.

An Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ECHO (Enforcement and Compliance History Online) report shows multiple, serious citations of Pinova in recent months, as is commonly the case for companies implicated in these types of catastrophic accidents. In January, the plant was cited for a “high-priority violation” of the Clean Air Act (CAA). Pinova has had five quarters with significant violations and has accrued $229,007 in penalties for violations of the CAA in the last five years. In March, the company was cited for a Clean Water Act violation. And last October, the company was cited for Significant Noncompliance with the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, its 12th in 12 quarters.

Pinova is a division of DRT Worldwide, based in France. DRT Worldwide has sites in France, Europe, North America, South America and the Asia Pacific, employing 1,200 workers. Pinova is one of two manufacturing sites in North America, both located in Georgia.

DRT Worldwide is privately owned, and as such, has no obligation to disclose its earnings. However, due to the fundamental role of resins and terpene, manufactured by DRT Worldwide in the production of plastics, rubber and polymers, it is very likely that the company has shared in the generally substantial growth of the plastics, polymers and resins market since 2020.

In its statement about the train derailment and subsequent “controlled burn” of the highly toxic payload over Palestine, Ohio in February, the World Socialist Web Site noted: “The resources and the technology have long existed that could make disasters like this a thing of the past. Instead, they are becoming ever more frequent.” Instead of shoring up deteriorating plants, equipment and infrastructure to protect workers, communities and the environment with the record profits produced during the COVID pandemic, the global elites chose instead to enrich themselves even though workers continue to be sickened or killed.

In the world’s largest economy, industrial disasters have become virtually a daily occurrence. Last week, an explosion and fire at the South Fork Dairy Farm in Dimmitt, Texas killed 18,000 cows, making it the deadliest such fire in US history. The cause of the explosion is believed to have been an equipment malfunction. One worker was injured in the incident.

On Saturday, a Canadian Pacific Kansas City train derailed in Rockwood, Maine sending three railroad workers to the hospital and starting a forest fire. The train derailed in a wooded area after it is believed it hit a section of track that had been washed out. Firefighters in the area report that the fire has been contained. The accident took place on only the second day of the railroad’s existence, having been formed last Friday out of a merger of Canadian Pacific and Kansas City Southern.

Meanwhile, a trillion dollars are being directed to the US military budget to realize the imperialist aims of the global elites as the working class suffers deplorable conditions of exploitation in their communities and workplaces.