Today at 1:30 pm, Orion Marine Contractors DBA West Construction began burning the first pile of dunnage and debris from the old harbor float system on AK Railroad Corporation property east of Sea Lion Avenue. Christy Terry, Manager of the AKRC Seward Dock Operations, said that West Construction was required to obtain all the necessary permits, including the City burn permit.
Over hour later, the large burn pile was still generating clouds of thick, black smoke. According to the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation Air Quality Division, this is NOT allowed. Furthermore, it is illegal to open burn wood treated with creosote, whether railroad ties or a harbor wooden float. The black smoke is considered carcinogenic and hazardous by the EPA and ADEC.
Seward Fire Chief Eddie Athey stated this was supposed to be clean wood waste from the harbor float system. He did not know why it was generating black smoke, or why it had not been hauled to the Seward Transfer Facility for disposal at the designated burn site. The staff at the Seward Transfer Facility is checking into any possible requests by West Construction to dispose of this material. ADEC is researching the burn permits and black smoke complaints.
This first burn pile is scheduled to be completed by tonight; the second pile is scheduled to be burned tomorrow. Chief Athey stated that if the fire department receives three complaints about this burn, they will shut it down. The Seward Fire Department phone number is 224-3445.
If you are concerned about Seward’s air quality, about burning large quantities of questionable wood waste in the heart of our town, noxious black smoke and its impacts on the health of our citizens and environment, please call the Fire Department at 224-3445 to voice your concerns. That second pile should not be allowed to burn.