DELANCO, NJ – Cleanup efforts at Dietz & Watson's fire-ravaged storage facility reached an important milestone — more than 20 tons of rotten meat and other debris were hauled off to area landfills.
"As our neighbors in Delanco and surrounding communities can attest, the fire was just the beginning of our problems," Louis Eni, CEO said in a statement on the company's website. "With power to the cold-storage units lost, the millions of pounds of meat and deli products stored inside began to spoil, creating an awful odor that has plagued the area. County health officials tell us the air is safe to breathe. But anyone who lives or works near there will tell you it stinks. We know that it does, and that it has impacted their quality of life."
An 11-alarm fire broke out at the Delanco storage facility Sept. 1. The roof, which was lined with solar panels, collapsed making the fire more difficult to extinguish. At one point, more than 100 firefighters were battling the blaze. The investigation into the cause of the fire continues. Meanwhile, residents in the area around the facility have contacted the company through phone calls, email and tweets asking when the stench will be gone.
To fix the problem, the company hired BioTrad Environmental Inc. to treat the site with a blend of odor-neutralizing biodegradable plant extracts. Eni said BioTrad workers arrived Sept. 20 to deal with the stench while trucks removed the rotten meat.
"This process has proven effective at other locations, like landfills, that deal with large-scale odor problems," Eni said. "I have asked BioTriad to remain on site for the duration of the cleanup. Hopefully, those affected already are noticing improvement in the smell around the site."
Eni went on to say that demolition crews have been on the site daily since Sept. 11. Since then, more than 300 trucks — each carrying between 30,000 and 36,000 lbs. of debris and spoiled food — have been used as part of the cleanup. Eni explained that attempts were made to start the cleanup as early as Sept. 2, but the fire took nearly 24 hours to extinguish and there were occasional flare-ups making it too dangerous for clean-up crews to enter the facility.
"The good news is we have made tremendous progress since then," Eni said. "Thanks to the cooperation of Burlington County officials, landfill hours have been extended, additional landfills have agreed to accept our waste and other resources have been made available to jump-start cleanup activities. Now that fire investigators are completely out of the building, we expect the cleanup to accelerate even faster."