The Slovenia Times

Kemis temporarily banned from collecting new waste after fire


The decision not to allow the Vrhnika-based company to take in new waste until the consequences of the fire are undone was communicated to Kemis orally on Friday and a formal notification in writing is expected to follow today or tomorrow.

Since the plant was damaged in the fire and it is hard to say when it can be operational again, it makes no sense to continue to store waste there, Kaiser said.

Kemis, which still has a permit to export waste, has also been ordered to take care of the waste that is already stored in Vrhnika, while it will need to take all new waste abroad or to other waste processing companies in Slovenia.

According to Kaiser, Kemis will be kept under close watch until the site is brought back to a normal state and later he expects the risk level to be set to the highest category so the plant will be subject to annual inspections.

Nevertheless, the company has so far not been stripped of its environmental permit. However, Kaiser said the inspection would surely propose this to the Environment Agency (ARSO) if Kemis fails to follow the inspection's decisions.

Kaiser added that other authorities should also speak up in this case, especially the fire inspection. If the plant had an automatic system foam extinguishers like some other companies dealing with hazardous waste, the whole incident would not need to be inspected now.

Kemis director Emil Nanut briefed today the management of the company's owner, home appliance maker Gorenje, about the situation at Kemis, the clean-up and restoration measures and the environmental inspection's ban.

According to Nanut, Kemis abides strictly to the inspection's orders and the company's owner told him to continue communicating openly with all stakeholders and working closely with all the relevant institutions in examining the causes and effects of the fire.

At the time of the fire, Kemis stored some 1,400 tonnes of waste, two thirds of which was hazardous, so the fire has caused great concern among the locals as well as around the country.

While the Atomic Safety Administration has announced there was no increased radiation on site, microbiologist Gorazd Pretnar told the STA on Friday that already short-term exposure to organic solvents, which were among the waste stored at Kemis, could have very dangerous health effects.

He said the fire could have been the result of improper storage of styrene, which can become unstable over time, leading to the formation of organic peroxides, which can cause spontaneous combustion.

On Saturday, the police announced the forensic investigation had identified a possible source location of the fire.


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