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Friday, May 6, 2016

After the fire ...

Monday, April 18, 2011

Future plans on hold for Filter Recycling Inc.

Filter Recycling Inc., owned by Marvin and Cindy Wernimont of Rembrandt, opened for business in Cherokee in 1997.

The business takes used oil filters and recycles the metal, either for use in manufacturing new filters or other metal. The filters are then crushed to a foot-square block and baked for 30 hours in two ovens, the first of which reportedly burns at a temperature of 1,400 -1,500 degrees, and the hotter secondary chamber which reportedly gets up to 1,650 degrees.

These photos show the extensive damage caused by the fire at Filter Recycling Inc. in Cherokee last week. Photos by Dan Whitney
An oil galley under the table where the metal blocks rest catches the used oil, which is used as fuel for the 40-foot oven. When the process is done, there is no oil left, and the paper filters turn to carbon ash, which is a necessary ingredient in the steel-manufacturing process.

The whole process was housed in a 100-by-200 building at 5167 Old 21 Road, just off River View Road, north of the Hy-Vee Warehouse on the north end of Cherokee.

When Cherokee Area Economic Development Corporation Director Mark Buschkamp stopped by Filter Recycling one day last week to see how things were going, owner Marvin Wernimont presented him with a ball-point pen which advertised the business' 15th anniversary.

Just a couple of days later, the question lingers ... 'Will there be a 16th anniversary?'

Early Monday morning last week, a fire broke out at the plant and, though the response from five area Fire Departments was quick, the damage was significant - perhaps not surprising, given the variety of flammable materials located there, including oil. diesel fuel, jet fuel and propane tanks.

Following a series of fiery explosions, little was left of the Filter Recycling Plant. The good news is that no one was injured.

Fire officials reported that the fire perhaps broke out in the facility's office, possibly from a clothes dryer that was left running, but no official report had been issued at the time of this writing.

An official from the iowa Department of Natural Resources was on the scene of the fire Tuesday, and he said that he felt the environmental impact to the area appears to be minimal, as most of the oil was contained to a small area.

"Based on the state's assessment of the situation, currently we're looking at probably excavation of the contaminated soil. However this early in the investigation is really too early to tell," said Don Cunninghan from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

Cindy Wernimont says that at this time no decisions have been made about the future plans for the business and its seven employees.

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