KDHE Emergency Order ( .PDF )
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has issued an emergency order, forcing the 12th and Haskell Bargain Center to make immediate changes, after seven fires at the salvage yard since 2004.
The KDHE order states that owner Bo Killough must immediately “cease and desist activities that create a hazard and immediate danger to surrounding property and to public health and safety.”
Last week, residents in the Brook Creek Neighborhood, which is across the street from the recycling center and salvage yard, spoke out following a Jan. 27 fire that ignited six cars. They also complained to KDHE. The agency then sent investigators to the site.
KDHE found the operators of the salvage yard were not properly removing gasoline and other flammable liquids from vehicles before they were being crushed.
According to the emergency order, investigators found more than 200 salvage vehicles on the property at 1146 Haskell Ave. All of the 25 vehicles KDHE inspected still had intact fuel tanks. Sixty-five of 75 vehicles contained flammable automotive fluids.
Killough told KDHE inspectors that he was unaware that fluids needed to be removed from salvage vehicles prior to crushing.
The order states: “By failing to remove the gasoline and other automotive fluids prior to crushing, respondents have created an immediate danger and hazard to the surrounding properties and property owners from fires started at the facility.”
Investigators also found a pile of air conditioning units dumped at the salvage yard that still contained refrigerants. According to KDHE, refrigerants can create toxic gasses when exposed to fire.
KDHE ordered the operators of the recycling center to immediately begin inspecting all vehicles for fluids, remove all automotive fluids prior to crushing the cars and store the fluids in proper containers.
The salvage yard also must keep a detailed log book of vehicles crushed at the facility, including disposal receipts for fluids removed from those vehicles.
Neighbors of the facility had been asking for changes to be made, citing complaints about noise, trash and repeated fires at the facility.
The area is zoned residential, but the Lawrence Douglas County Planning Department has deemed the salvage yard to be a legal non-conforming use, since a business has been operating on that plot of land dating back to the early 1950s.