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January 11, 2023

Attorney General Sues to Prevent Imminent Threat to Public Health and the Environment after C6-Zero Explosion

DES MOINES – Today, Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird filed suit on behalf of the State of Iowa against C6-Zero and its owner, Howard Brand, in Iowa County District Court, seeking immediate compliance with an emergency order of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and Iowa environmental laws. The suit seeks to prevent imminent threat to public health and the environment arising from a devastating explosion and fire at the C6-Zero facility on December 8, 2022.

C6-Zero operated a facility located at 810 E. South Street, Marengo, that used various flammable chemical solvents, diesel oil, and other hazardous chemicals to process used asphalt shingles for reuse in other products. The explosion and fire caused large quantities of contaminated runoff to enter a ditch that flows into the Iowa River, a drinking water source for nearby communities, including Iowa City. The runoff is temporarily being held in a retention pond in Marengo to prevent hazardous substances from reaching the Iowa River.

The C6-Zero building suffered substantial damage and remains without heat or power.  Chemicals used at the facility remain on site in buckets, barrels, and gas tanks, along with large piles of loose, crushed shingles, and are exposed to wind, rain, and changing temperatures.  Surface water samples taken at the C6-Zero facility From December 8-14, 2022, showed evidence of hazardous substances in excess of statewide water quality standards. The DNR determined a hazardous condition exists at the site.

On December 15, 2022, DNR Director Kayla Lyon issued an emergency order to C6-Zero to compel the immediate stabilization of all hazardous conditions and the removal and proper disposal of solid wastes on-site, as well as full remediation of the area. The order required C6-Zero to submit an environmental site assessment plan within 15 days, and complete the plan requirements within 45 days. When the DNR received a site assessment plan submitted after the deadline and contemplating completion in March 2023, DNR Director Lyon referred the matter to Attorney General Bird, requesting that she “take all legal action necessary to ensure compliance with the emergency order and Iowa law.”

“As Attorney General, I enforce our laws,” said Bird. “Iowans expect responsible businesses to take reasonable steps to comply with their duties to remediate hazardous conditions after an incident like this.”

This suit is authorized by Iowa’s Hazardous Conditions statute and seeks temporary and permanent injunctive relief from the court to prevent imminent and irreparable injuries to the environment and public health.  The suit requests the court stop C6-Zero and Brand from further violations of the DNR emergency order and Iowa environmental protection laws, require they identify all chemicals located at the facility, and they allow the DNR and its representatives to enter the property to conduct all activities necessary to protect public health, safety, and the environment.

A copy of the suit, State of Iowa ex rel. Iowa Department of Natural Resources v. C6-Zero Iowa LLC et al., Iowa County No. EQCV024854, can be found here


For More Information:

Sam Langholz, Chief Deputy

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