A Kmart store here has been fined $53,000 for improperly disposing of swimming pool chemicals that twice caught fire in the store’s trash compactor, the state Department of Ecology said Tuesday.
The fires caused two evacuations at Kmart’s store at Columbia Center Boulevard and Canal Drive and released chlorine gas, the department said. Chlorine gas can burn lung tissue and cause death if a person is exposed to high concentrations.
No one was injured in the fires, which occurred Oct. 25 and Oct. 26.
Kmart can appeal the penalty to the Ecology Department and the state Pollution Control Hearings Board.
Kmart officials could not be reached for comment Tuesday. The first fire occurred after a store employee disposed of pool chemicals and other flammable, toxic and corrosive wastes in a compactor, the Ecology Department said. When they were compacted, some of the chemicals mixed and reacted, resulting in a fire and release of chlorine gas.
The next day the store was evacuated again when a 25-pound bag of pool chemicals that authorities hadn’t seen in the compactor the day before caught fire and released chlorine gas.
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