Federal, City Fire Officials Investigate Explosion at the Synagro Facility at Back River Wastewater Treatment Facility

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Federal and City officials are investigating the cause of an explosion that occurred Wednesday morning at Synagro Technologies Facility at the Back River Wastewater Treatment Facility. The incident happened just before 12:00 p.m. as contractors from Synagro Technologies Inc. were working. The explosion and fire caused extensive fire damage to Synagro’s building on the property at the treatment facility.

Synagro leases space within the Back River Wastewater Treatment Facility and owns and operates this facility. Within this facility, Synagro is responsible for converting waste sludge into pellets for agricultural use. Since the explosion and fire, Synagro’s operations have been suspended.

“Our team is working diligently with Synagro to assess the situation and develop a plan for getting this facility back online,” said DPW Director Jason W. Mitchell, Ed.D. “We understand the critical importance of this facility to our community and the surrounding area and will do everything in our power to restore operations as quickly and safely as possible.”

On Wednesday, units from Baltimore County Fire & EMS and the Baltimore City Fire Department responded to the wastewater treatment plant located at 8201 Eastern Avenue within minutes of the explosion being reported and were able to contain the fire. During the time of the incident, seven contractors were inside working. All personnel in the impacted facility were evacuated safely and unharmed.

The investigation into the cause of the explosion and fire will be conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) and the Baltimore City Police and the Baltimore City Fire Department Fire Investigation Division.

“We’re grateful to the first responders who arrived quickly and worked tirelessly to contain the fire and prevent any further damage,” Director Mitchell continued. “Our top priority is to determine the cause of the fire and assess the extent of the damage, so we can get the building back up and running as soon as possible.”

The building contained 12,000 gallons of thermal oil, which is not classified as a hazardous material and used in Synagro’s manufacturing process. Most of the oil was contained in tanks; and firefighters allowed some to burn off before extinguishing the rest.  

According to the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE), the oil was contained to the site and poised no environmental impact or public health threat.



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The Baltimore City Department of Public Works supports the health, environment, and economy of our City and region by cleaning our neighborhoods and waterways and providing its customers with safe drinking water and sustainable energy practices.