TCEQ notes one violation at New Earth

Firefighters say mulch fire likely to be out by the end of the day

Author: April Molina, Investigative Reporter, amolina@ksat.com
Published On: Jun 19 2012 05:18:51 PM CDT   Updated On: Jun 19 2012 01:05:44 PM CDT
SAN ANTONIO -

Areas surrounding the New Earth Soil and Compost site are still in a haze of smoke after mulch fire that has been burning for more than 18 hours is still under investigation.

New Earth CEO Neal Leonard reports there have been other fires on the property, but generally much smaller in scale.

"There are times when we've had compost fires when the micro-organisms break down and they will cause friction and occasionally you'll have a compost fire. They're usually very small and contained," Leonard said.

The cause of Monday night's fire is still under investigation.

"It may have started in one of the smaller mulch piles and blown into this or it may have started in this and blown into one of the smaller, I'm not really sure at this point," said San Antonio Fire Department Battalion Chief Neal Ague.

By all accounts, the origin of the fire appears to have been somewhere between the large pile of wood beside it, which is the area where firefighters are focusing most of their effort.

"The fire is completely contained and right now we're knocking down some hot spots," Ague said.

New Earth employees are working very methodically with firefighters, pulling down small wood piles, as firefighters hose them down.

Leonard said New Earth is in compliance with all Texas Commission on Environmental Quality codes, adding had they not been, the fire could have taken much longer to contain.

The TCEQ reports there was only one violation noted during the last three inspections for failing to achieve maximum control of dust emissions from in plant roads and vehicular work areas and failing to minimize emissions from the receiving chamber of the grinder.