Severn Peanut Company houses the largest dome silo of its kind in the country. The dome is 192' in diameter and 100' height, for an interior volume of 1,791,000 cubic feet. The walls of the dome are constructed with 22" concrete thickness at the bottom, which tapers to a 10" thickness at the top. Inside of the concrete there is 3" thick R19 insulation, and a membrance roof on the exterior. The silo holds 21 million pounds of peanuts, which occupy an estimated 1,345,000 cubic feet of space. T
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On Monday August 10th, on-site personel detected the smell of burning peanuts. At approximately 1600 hrs on August 11th, the on-site representative observed smoke emanating from the top of the dome. Once he noticed this smoke, he contacted his supervisor and local fire department. Local fire department, NC RRT, and Northampton County EMA responded to the scene.
Aluminum phosphide tablets, used as a fumigant throughout the grain industry, were applied to the peanut silo on August 4. Aluminum phosphide reacts with water to produce phosphine gas, which disperses throughout the pile and serves as a rodenticide for the peanuts. Under normal conditions, this reaction takes place within 7 to 10 days, and the phosphine gas reaches a level suitable for release into the atmosphere (< 0.3 ppm). IFC, the company responsible for application of the fumigant, has taken phosphene readings from a tube which descends 15' into the top of the dome, since application of the fumigant.
Currently on scene - Fire Chief, RRT-1, and PRP. Incident Command is set up off site. OSC Hughes, ERT Campagna and EPA START contractor OTIE have been mobilized. Current activities on site include continuous air monitoring outside the silo. 500+ ppm of Phosphine is being picked up at the bottom of the silo. Local EM is prepping for the possibility of evacuating the area and the local school is on standby to open as a shelter. Contact OSC Alyssa Hughes at (404) 229-9530.
As of August 12, the situation is reportedly somewhat stabilized, although peanuts continue to smolder, according to County EMA Director. Phosphine levels inside the silo dome have dropped from ~500 ppm to ~200 ppm. The current strategy is to monitor phosphine levels and allow normal process of off-gassing to take place.
RRT-1 demobilized last night around midnight. Once phosphine levels dissipate, methods for extinguishing the fire will be evaluated.
EPA is sending an additional resource, Phil Campagna who is an air quality expert, to assist with the air monitoring.