Global Plastic Grinders LLC in West Columbia, S.C., has been closed indefinitely because it does not have a permit to grind plastics, according to city Fire Chief Wyatt Coleman.
“The owner did not have a business license for plastics grinding,” Coleman told Plastics News July 18. “They have been informed that they need to get a fire analysis of the building, and of the flammability of the material” by a registered design professional in order to obtain that license.
Coleman issued the “stop work” order July 11 for not having a properly approved fire inspection report, and for failure to have a proper permit for operations that produce combustible dust.
A three-member panel of the West Columbia Fire Code Appeals Board upheld the order July 23. A news release issued by Global Plastic after that hearing said that the company has “requested an application for such a permit” but added that company officials “wonder if such an application even exists.”
In the fire chief's original letter, sent July 11 to owner and President Charles Leonard Sr. and Vice President Annette Leonard, Coleman told the two that they are “prohibited from conducting plastic grinding operations until an operational permit and approved fire inspection report has been issued by the West Columbia Fire Department, [and] all other required permits have been approved and a business license has been issued by the City of West Columbia.”
A consultant retained by Charles Leonard said Leonard has told him he has that license. But Leonard did not respond to an inquiry from Plastics News.
“The owner, Mr. Leonard Sr., has indicated that all permits and licenses have been applied for and all fees have been submitted months ago and the city has not responded,” said the company spokesman. “They have been grinding [plastics] for over a year.”
The company has about 50 employees.
The stop-work order was issued six days after an inspection of the plant, Coleman said, adding that the company did have a license for paper shredding.
“It was evident to the code officials that your facilities pose potential hazards that need to be identified, quantified and assessed before determining, what, if any, changes will be required or necessary,” said the letter sent by Coleman to the Leonards.
“[A] major issue/concern is identifying all the current uses and operations in your facilities,” said the letter. “For example, quantities and combustibility of the contents, storage arrangements [of the plastics], maximized storage heights, and fire-protection features present in the building. In addition, we are concerned about the nature and hazards associated with any manufacturing/recycling operations [including] the size, quantity and combustibility of the dust and other associated hazards.”
“Finally, we are concerned about the code issues associated with your processes and products and its handling, such as the combustibility of the pellets, material and other associated hazards,” said the letter. “[The city] is formally requesting that you provide a technical report and opinion [fire safety analysis], at your expense, to determine the acceptability of the technologies, processes, products, facilities, storage, materials and uses.”
All operational permits and fire-inspection reports will be withheld until the technical report has been reviewed and approved by the West Columbia fire chief, the letter said.
In its July 23 press release, Global Plastic said it has contracted for the requested analysis.
“Global Plastic Grinders LLC has attempted to comply with the actual fire codes in place, as well as the requirements stated in the only inspection report they were given,” said the news release. “Officials at the city continue to send mixed signals regarding the future business climate for Global Plastic Grinders, saying that further investigation and an independent report on fire safety analysis is required before the business may resume.”
The inspection at Global Plastic was made after a fire June 29 destroyed World Wide Recycling in nearby Cayce, S.C. Cayce city officials said flames from wood pallets that World Wide was burning got out of control and set fire to shredded plastic that was stored outside the plant.
Cayce officials said World Wide failed to notify the city that it planned to burn the pallets, as is required by city code.