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Attorney general takes C6-Zero to court over cleaning up the explosion in Marengo

Brenna Bird is running as a Republican for Iowa attorney general against long-standing incumbent Democrat Tom Miller.
Natalie Krebs
IPR file
Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird is taking C6-Zero to court alleging the company has failed to comply with environmental regulations in the clean-up of its Marengo property.

The Iowa attorney general is taking on an asphalt tile "re-manufacturer" after an explosion last month injured workers, caused an evacuation and polluted runoff water. She says the suit seeks to prevent an "imminent threat to public health and the environment."

Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird is suing Howard Brand and his company C-6 Zero.

The AG's office claimed chemicals remain on the ground, in stormwater basins and in containers at the facility that are open to the weather. These chemicals risk further leaks and spills. It said through "inaction and inadequate actions" that violations will persist.

In response, it called the court to mandate compliance with what the DNR has already ordered, as well as provide a list of chemicals present at the facility. Further, it asked the court to require the company to give DNR access to the facility.

“Iowans expect responsible businesses to take reasonable steps to comply with their duties to remediate hazardous conditions after an incident like this," Bird said in a release.

A C6-Zero spokesperson wrote in a statement the company was "shocked" by the "short-sighted and ill-informed legal matter." He said DNR officials held two walkthroughs at the site in the last week. He said the company would "vigorously and aggressively" defend itself from the legal action.

Catch up on what's happened since the explosion

C6-Zero claims that its facility in Marengo was used to process used asphalt shingles for reuse in other products. On Dec. 8, there was an explosion and subsequent fire at C6-Zero's plant in Marengo. Several workers were injured. As smoke hung over Marengo, emergency responders evacuated part of the town.

On Dec. 15, DNR Director Kayla Lyon issued an emergency order to C6-Zero compelling the company to clean up the solid wastes that remained onsite. It called for a cleanup plan to be submitted within 15 days.

IPR News obtained the plan through a public information request. It was submitted after the DNR's deadline. It's cleanup effort timeline also stretched past the deadline the DNR gave the company to have the site cleaned.

Following the late receipt of C6-Zero's plan — which Lyon said did not comply with the requirements of the DNR's emergency order — she referred the case to the AG's office to take legal action to gain compliance.

Zachary Oren Smith is a reporter covering Eastern Iowa