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County officials call hazardous waste fire ‘eye-opening’

The Nye County Sheriff's Office is calling the fire at a hazardous waste facility near Beatty, "an eye-opening" event.

In a statement released Monday, the sheriff's department said that despite everything appearing to be fine at US Ecology, it will take "many years" to understand what the full effects of the event will be.

"Meanwhile, protective actions are being implemented by the State of Nevada, Department of Health and Human Services in partnership with the new US Ecology, Nye County officials, and the governor's office," the sheriff's office said. "There are many additional entities participating in concert with the primary partners to affect a path forward."

Those measures began a day after the incident took place on Oct.19 and Oct. 20, with a preliminary investigation team visiting the site. The team took photographs, measurements and radiation readings in and around the trench of the industrial fire on Oct. 21.

The initial reading showed that there were no abnormal readings for radiation.

A couple of weeks later, on Nov. 4 and Nov. 5, a second investigation involving multiple agencies took place at the site. The group observed and participated in different investigative research activities, including surveying the site from all directions.

About noon on November 5th, agencies from local, state, and federal partners engaged in a re-entry into the cratered trench. Samples of the 55-gallon drums that were left exposed after the fire and took measurements of the affected area were field tested. The 55-gallon drums that were expelled from the crater during the industrial fire were sampled and returned to the crater by the team.

Initial testing revealed the presence of sodium, confirming the 55-gallon drums were placed in the site decades ago.

After the preliminary investigation concluded, the crater was covered with a heavy waterproof tarp until it can be properly refilled and resealed at a later date.

A comprehensive assessment of the entire site is being planned and will be carried out in the near future.

Additional partners have asked to be included in the comprehensive tests to help better identify the contents of the site and secure the safety of the site for the environment and residents of Nye County and the state of Nevada.

"Governor Sandoval is personally committed to ensuring that all proper actions and efforts lead to a mutually beneficial conclusion," the statement read.

The actions at the site are ongoing and additional information will be released as it becomes available.

Contact reporter Mick Akers at makers@pvtimes.com. On Twitter: @mickakers

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