KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation authorities plan next week to visit the site of last week's massive Knoxville recycling center blaze.
They'll be looking for any signs that solid waste or debris poses an environmental threat, TDEC spokeswoman Kim Schofinski told 10News on Thursday.
TDEC has been working in cooperation with Knoxville area officials as they monitor whether the multi-acre blaze or its runoff contaminated the North Knoxville area.
Fire broke out about 1 p.m. May 1 at Fort Loudon Waste and Recycling, 2742 Hancock St. in the midst of a neighborhood. It burned more than two days, requiring millions of gallons of water.
Burning paper and plastic collected for recycling purposes spread noxious smoke across the area. The plume could be seen for miles.
Dozens of residents were evacuated after the blaze broke out.
Water used during the firefight ended up flowing into storm drains and area creeks. Its ultimate destination: Fort Loudoun Lake.
"At this time, we have not observed any substantial impacts to water quality in nearby streams," Schofinski said.
City of Knoxville storm water engineers have been watching contamination levels in streams near the center. While oxygen levels are lower than usual in some parts of Second Creek, it hasn't gotten to the point where fish are dying.
TDEC has no records for Fort Loudon Waste.
"Most recycling operations are exempt from permitting under our Solid Waste Management program," she said.
The center is owned by Eddie and Jason Bales, who have worked in the recycling business more than a decade. They also face a mountain of unpaid bills and obligations, a review by 10News show.
They're thousands of dollars behind on city and county property taxes as well as KUB utility bills, records show. They've yet to pay more than $20,000 in two fines assessed last year by state work-place authorities.
Creditors also say the firm owes them money for equipment leases.
The business was destroyed in the fire.