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Crews still cleaning up medical waste after Petersburg building explosion

PETERSBURG, Va. -- Cleanup continues at a medical waste services building in Petersburg, where an explosion caused the building to partially collapse last month.

The explosion at Curtis Bay Medical Waste Services in the 1900 block of Puddledock Road injured three people.

Two weeks later, part of the building is still unsafe for investigators who are still trying to figure out what exactly happened that day.

Howard Burnette says he won’t ever forget March 31, 2017.

“'It was a very, very scary day,” he said.

Burnette, who works next door to Curtis Bay Medical Waste Services, was outside changing tires when a piece of debris flew across his face.

“Probably three or four inches from that rock,” he pointed out.

Now almost two weeks later, Burnette says he is a little concerned about the medical waste as the cleanup continues next door.

Petersburg Fire officials updated the cleanup efforts Wednesday, saying they are in phase two of a three phase safety clean up.

“A lot of sharp material, a lot of contaminated material here at this facility and the crews are maintaining safety as the utmost priority and we’re interested in getting it right, not getting it quick,” said Petersburg Fire Chief Brian Sturdivant.

Medical waste

While the preliminary investigation points to an explosion in the boiler room, investigators still can’t safely access that area.

“The investigators have to make access to the boiler room to finish their investigation and that won’t take place until the cleanup has commenced,” said Sturdivant.

Wednesday also marked the first time that more than 30 local, state and federal officials, including the Department of Environmental Quality, have toured the inside of the facility as part of the investigation.

“Environmental Quality wants to ensure that whatever the contaminants maybe, they are contained to the site and there’s no impact to local water ways or environmental issues,” said Sturdivant.

While on the site of the explosion you can’t help but notice a large net.

Officials said, with winds and rain expected, the net is designed to simply keep all medical waste and building debris on site and not be carried off the property due to weather.

Chief Brian Sturdivant said he believes the entire building will have to come down due to the damage from the explosion, but says Curtis Bay Medical Waste Services wants to re-build on the same site.