On July 17th at approximately 2:30 pm a fire broke out at the Perdue chicken plant in Accomack County on the Eastern Shore. The fire occurred in two chemical tanks, one of which contained paracetic acid and the other containing sodium chloride. Multiple fire departments and HAZMAT crews from as far away as Virginia Beach responded quickly, but they were unable to extinguish the flames because putting water on the chemical fire would have caused a highly dangerous explosion. As a result, there was no option other than to keep people as far away as possible and let the fire burn itself out. Fearing hazards to local residents caused by chemical-laden smoke, the Accomack County issued a Code Red alert and is encouraging people located within two miles of the plant to remain indoors. Our waterfront property law team has written in this blog about the hazards to the environment caused by large scale poultry operations such as Perdue. These hazards include contamination of the underwater aquifer which is the sole source of potable water for the Eastern Shore, as well as concerns about chemical runoff into the Chesapeake Bay and the unsustainable water usage required to operate these massive plants. The risk of fires and chemical contamination is yet another reason for residents of the Eastern Shore to be concerned about these large-scale operations. If you have been affected by this fire, contact our waterfront property law team and let us see if we can help.