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A pile of coal that caught fire last week has a Lansing neighborhood concerned about their health. Now the Department of Environmental Quality and other agenies are stepping in to investigate.
The yard is on Lansing's north side at the Conrad Yelvington Distributors Transfer Yard off Martin Luther King Jr Blvd.
"The odor has just been horrendous," said Chris Hannah, a concerned neighbor.
"My neighbor has asthma really bad," said Debbie Kallweit.
Neighbors tried cleaning what the coal fire left behind and watched the company from their backyards move the black mound into dump trucks.
Lansing fire fighters say the fire sparked deep inside the pile late last Friday. They believe the hot weather accidentally started it.
"It's not uncommon for coal to self-combust," said Lansing's Assistant Fire Chief Trent Atkins.
It appears to be out now, but DEQ Spokesperson Brad Wurfel says the state wants to be sure.
"We're working with the company to figure out how to get the material out of there," said Wurfel.
So far, the state plans to issue the company a nuissance odor violation for the smell, which can result in a fine. However, the state and the city are confident no one is in danger.
"It's an unfortunate circumstance. Nobody is in an immediate risk for public health, but we recognize that it's no fun to be in a neighborhood with that kind of a smell everywhere," said Wurfel. "We're doing what we can to get this resolved as quickly as possible."
Although things may look okay now, neighbors are worried if another coal fire could be in their future.
"Is this going to be an on-going problem? Are they going to have a way to put it out if it happens again? Is the way they're doing it now good enough? I don't know," said Kallweit.
The city attorney is looking into what regulations the city has. Officials have planned a community meeting Monday night to help answer neighbors questions and concerns. It starts at 6:30p.m. at the Geir Community Center.
The company later released this statement: "Coal is temporarily stored at our property while in transit to its owner. On Friday August 3rd a shipment of the coal became overheated and began to generate smoke and dust. The company has been working with the Lansing Fire Marshall, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, the supplier and owner to address these issues. We have removed the coal from our property and are continuing to work with the Fire Marshall and supplier to avoid future issues. All remaining coal on sight is not overheated, nor do we expect it to become so. We apologize to anyone disturbed by this situation."
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