Fire destroys facility in Slaughter

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Workers with U.S. Environmental Services continue cleanup at the site of Monolyte Laboratories Monday after an early morning fire destroyed the facility.
Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Workers with U.S. Environmental Services continue cleanup at the site of Monolyte Laboratories Monday after an early morning fire destroyed the facility.

Slaughter firefighters and emergency responders were able to keep a fire that destroyed Monolyte Laboratories Inc. early Monday morning from spreading to neighboring businesses, Slaughter Police Chief Walter Smith said.

The fire was discovered at about 1:30 a.m., Smith said, when one of his officers driving on La. 19 was flagged down and told there appeared to be fire and smoke coming from the Monolyte facility. When the officer inspected the building, he said he could see glowing metal inside.

Although there were no hazardous chemicals on the site, there were propane bottles, Smith said. To prevent them from exploding, firefighters kept a spray of water on the building to keep the fire contained, he said.

“It was a pretty good little blaze there for awhile,” Smith said. “It’s a complete loss.”

No one was at the facility at the time of the fire, because although there is a night crew, they don’t work on Sundays, Smith said.

The cause of the fire is being investigated, he said.

Peter Ricca, emergency response manager with the state Department of Environmental Quality, said the facility produces a water additive used by wastewater treatment facilities and at oilfield sites to help clarify water that has been discharged.

There is a list of chemicals in the additive, but so far, there did not appear to be anything hazardous in the mix, he said.

By Monday afternoon, the main concern was the product that had washed into nearby ditches and some low spots in the road when the fire was being put out.

“Since it has escaped from containment, it is in the ditches so that does have an effect on the environment,” Ricca said.

Firefighters blocked off the ditches that were collecting water runoff during the fire response, and the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries were notified because there was some impact on fish and turtles in the area, Ricca said.

In addition, other material found at the facility site needs to be cleaned up, he said.

“We do know on the ground there is a good bit of finished product,” Ricca said. “It’s a relatively small facility.”

The company has hired an environmental contractor to handle the cleanup. There are no odors and nothing was detected in air monitoring, he said.

“Really, it’s just a cleanup effort at this point,” Ricca said.