US 95 reopens following hazardous waste plant fire


U.S. Highway 95 in Nye County reopened at 5:30 p.m. Monday.

According to the Department of Public Safety, the state of Nevada has determined that there aren’t any known health risks from the U.S. Ecology Industrial Fire that happened Sunday in Nye County.

The plant is about 8 miles away from populated areas. 

Before the 95 reopened it was a day of waiting for drivers.

“They told us it was going to be a couple hours, and then it turned into four to five hours, then they told us you may as well go back to Vegas and stay overnight,” said Phillip Moulton, a driver trying to get to Reno.

“We’re just trying to get back to Tonopah,” said Jeremmy Boxford, Tonopah resident.

Patrick Walker, 8 News NOW Reporter: “How long have you been out here?”
Boxford: “Umm, since 10 o’clock yesterday morning.” 

The fire started Sunday afternoon around 1 p.m.  It was completely extinguished Monday afternoon.

The only viable detour for people stuck in the area was for drivers to head south toward Death Valley National Park, but flash flooding Monday morning caused all of that to be closed, meaning people who wanted to get to Beatty had to go all the way up to Ely.

All levels of testing that were conducted resulted in negative readings for radiation, the Department of Public Safety said.

Schools in Beatty and Amargosa Valley were also closed due to the radiation scare.  However, the Nye County School District said they will reopen tomorrow.

Reports from the Prescott Daily Courier and the L.A. Times revealed regulators had their eyes on the facility in the 70’s when employees admitted to dumping radioactive waste on the ground, along with using a contaminated cement mixer to do other construction work around town.

Longtime Amargosa Valley resident Enrique Perez remembers when that happened.

“They dumped stuff out here for years,” Perez said. “People never complained about it.”

Perez says he doesn’t understand why it’s of such concern now.

“I think it’s a little ridiculous,” Perez said.  “We’ve lived in the valley for 40 years; they’ve never said anything about it until now.”

Governor Brian Sandoval, R-NV, received a briefing Monday afternoon regarding the testing results and ongoing efforts.

“I would like to thank all of our local, state and federal partners for their immediate and continued attention to this matter,” said Governor Sandoval.

At the request of Gov. Sandoval, the Department of Public Safety, along with many other state agencies will continue to work closely together to monitor the situation in Beatty. 

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