SEATTLE - Environmental Protection Agency investigators have successfully removed more dangerous chemicals from a Seattle home than they ever expected.
The EPA inspected the home after firefighters discovered the stockpile of chemicals while helping an elderly resident get down the steps of the home. Inspectors immediately removed the residents and called in hazmat teams to remove chemicals they described as commercial and industrial grade.
They initially identified about 1,000 containers of chemicals, some leaking, many stored improperly and unlabeled. But after 10 days of removal they said that number grew to 4,000 and it took a major effort to safely package them up and remove them.
Neighbors have been watching it all in disbelief.
"I knew nothing at all. I had maybe twice talked to him,” said Rodger Webster.
The presence of a well stocked but poorly stored chemistry lab crammed into the house never came up in those discussions.
Investigators say chemicals were oozing, seeping and spilling out of containers putting neighbors at risk of a violent reaction.
"If there was a fire here, then the fire would have been much worse because of the types of chemicals and the volume of chemicals and some of the chemicals could have potentially triggered the fire if containers had deteriorated any further,” said Jeffrey Rodin, on-scene coordinator for the EPA.
Clean-up teams used absorbent pellets to capture and neutralize chemicals spilling from leaking and open containers placed in buckets.
It's a complicated process of assessing, packing and labeling and it just keeps dragging on.
"We've had over 2,000 man hours over the past 10 days just dedicated for site personnel," said Rodin.
The owner of the home told investigators he is a scientist who knows what he's doing and he never felt he had endangered himself or neighbors.
But neighbors are happy to get their street back.
"We’re really glad it’s cleaned up, as you could imagine,” said Webster.