High levels of fatal gas detected at trash pile fire near Riverwalk Business Park

High levels of the fatal gas Hydrogen cyanide were detected at the site of a smoldering trash pile fire near Okatie Thursday afternoon, the Environmental Protection Agency’s on-scene coordinator, Matthew Huyser, said.

EPA staff are telling people working in the area around Riverwalk Business Park about the dangers of the gas so they can decide to leave. Huyser said the workers are planning to douse water on the mound’s spots where gas was detected.

EPA staff member Jose Negron said this was the first time Hydrogen cyanide had been detected, and workers have not been told to evacuate. He said if the fire gets worse and the EPA detects higher levels of the gas, they will inform businesses to leave the area.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Hydrogen cyanide is a colorless gas that “interferes with the normal use of oxygen by nearly every organ of the body. Exposure to hydrogen cyanide (AC) can be rapidly fatal.”

Although above the EPA’s alarm levels, the gas detected at the site has not reached dangerous levels, Negron said.

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

The Growth and Development Reporter for the Island Packet, Kacen Bayless is a native of Ballwin, Missouri. In the past, he’s worked for St. Louis Magazine, the Columbia Missourian, KBIA and the Columbia Business Times. He graduated with a Bachelor of Journalism degree with an emphasis in Investigative Reporting from the University of Missouri in 2019.