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

Green banner with DPW logo and text "Department of Public Works Press Release"

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.



Related Stories

DPW Offices and Facilities Close for Good Friday, March 29 Trash, Recycling Pickups to Resume Saturday, March 30

Baltimore City Department of Public Works (DPW) Acting Director Khalil Zaied reminds residents that Good Friday, March 29, 2024, is a City holiday and DPW offices and sanitation yards will be CLOSEDThere will be NO trash or recycling collections on Good Friday. Trash and recycling collections, normally scheduled for Friday, March 29, will be collected on the make-up day, Saturday, March 30.

Mayor Scott to Nominate Khalil Zaied as New Director of the Department of Public Works

Mayor Brandon M. Scott has announced his intent to nominate Khalil Zaied as the new Director of the Department of Public Works (DPW). Zaied, who most recently led the Department of Public Works in Champaign, Illinois, will join DPW on March 18, 2024. Previously, he was a nearly 20 year veteran of Baltimore City Government, serving as Deputy Mayor of Operations and Director of Transportation, among other roles.

Mayor Scott, City Agencies Highlight the Return of Weekly Recycling

On Monday, March 4, Mayor Brandon M. Scott, Department of Public Works Interim Director Richard J. Luna, Department of General Services Director Berke Attila, and Baltimore City Chief Administrative Officer Faith Leach joined city staff and community members to highlight the return of weekly, curbside recycling collections for Baltimore City residents, starting Tuesday, March 5.