77
      Friday
      86 / 71
      Saturday
      86 / 71
      Sunday
      85 / 72

      Agrium Plant fire one year later

      T he Agrium Rainbow Fertilizer Plant in Hartsville exploded on Valentine's Day 2011.

      Eyewitnesses reported seeing flames from miles away.

      At the time , officials said the fire appeared to have started in the breakroom and got out of control.

      Hartsville police and Darlington County deputies went door to door asking residents to evacuate. They feared toxic chemicals were being released into the air . T he Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) later determined there were no toxic chemicals released in the air from the smoke.

      DHEC monitored the air quality for weeks.

      The State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) assumed jurisdiction over the investigation of what caused the fire.

      One year later, fire officials tell us SLED still has not issued a report on the Agrium fire. We have requested information from SLED about the status of the investigation.

      Last May, the company announced it would not rebuild. The employees received severance packages and qualified for unemployment benefits.

      Darlington County Economic Development Partnership Director Robert Long (

      The employees received severance packages and qualified for unemployment benefits.

      Darlington County Economic Development Partnership Director Robert Long says the fire impacted the entire Darlington County community in a number of ways. He says the company had been there for more than 100 years and had become a fixture in the Hartsville community.

      " T hat facility has been there their entire life, so the landscape is different," said Long.

      He says many of the former employees were able to get jobs through other industrial expansions in Darlington County in recent months.

      Long says DHEC and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) required Agrium to clean up and remove debris from Agrium's 32-acre site in Hartsville.

      He says the clean up is finished and now the company is monitoring the site for the next few months as required by state and federal health regulators.

      Long says they plan to work with Agrium executives to market the property for potential industries and businesses.

      Long explained, "I could easily see that property going industrial."

      He says what happens to the property is up to the folks at Agrium, but Long says the company wants to see the land put to viable use and hopes another company will build there.