The fire was reported Saturday at Chamness Technology, which is south of Eddyville. Kurt Levetzow of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources says investigators believe the fire started in shredded trees and landscape waste from the August derecho piled on top of the facility’s compost pad.
“One of the piles basically spontaneously combusted,” he says. “It was located adjacent to a large pallet pile which was also to be shredded and ground up to be utilized as a bulking material in the compost wind rows and one fire led to the other.”
Water in nearby Palestine Creek turned black and pumps were set up to get the water out of the creek. Levetzow says water samples taken Monday are being tested. A DN- staffer is on site this morning to try to determine the source of that black water. Levetzow says it could be from fighting the fire or from retention lagoons around surrounding the composting area — or it could be from the compost piles.
“It’s essentially the excess moisture that comes off of a compost pad,” he says. “It’s typically high in BOD — it causes a bio-oxygen demand on a receiving stream, so that’s why we’re so concerned with it.”
Palestine Creek starts near the facility and, while it drains into the Des Moines River, Levetzow says the creek is so small it sometimes does not have any water flow, but it rained in the area recently. The state has levied fines against the facility before, most recently a $10,000 fine in 2018 for how debris piles were being maintained.
A spokesperson for Chamness Technology was not available for comment.