No one hurt in industry blaze near Harleyville

Giant Resource Recovery provides fuel that fires the kiln at the nearby Giant Cement plant (above) off Interstate 26 in Harleyville.

A company fire-suppression system worked to minimize damage from an early Tuesday blaze at the Giant Resource Recovery plant in upper Dorchester County.

No one was injured in the blaze at the facility, which is adjacent to the Giant Cement location on 60 acres of a 1,700-acre site north of Harleyville. The cause is under investigation.

The automatic fire-protection system — a combination of dry chemicals, water and foam — worked as designed, said Al Smith, a vice president at Giant Resource Recovery.

And the Harleyville Fire Department and other firefighters were swift to respond to the incident, which started about 5:15 a.m., Smith said. The department contained and helped minimize the incident, he said.

Company training also worked, as the emergency was immediately called in.

“Let the (fire protection) system do what it’s designed to do,” Smith said. “I want to thank the local responders. ... Their efforts are to be commended.”

Operations at Giant Resource Recovery have been temporarily shut down to determine the full extent of the damage and the cause of the blaze, Smith said. The fire was on one of the facility’s conveyer belts.

“The first thing we want to do is assess what happened, and then repairs can be made,” he said.

The Giant Cement Co. plant was not affected by the fire, he said.

Giant Resource Recovery uses waste materials as a replacement for coal to fuel the nearby cement business and other manufacturing operations.

According to GRR-Harleyville’s website, the fuel is burned in the production of Portland cement in its rotary kiln. Examples of wastes that are suitable for the resource recovery program include solvents, waste oil and coolants, as well as shredded and crushable solids.

The facility is one of only two in the United States permitted to store and use bulk solid hazardous-waste fuels, according to the company.

Formerly owned by a Summerville company, Giant Cement and Giant Resource Recovery were acquired by the Spanish construction conglomerate Cementos Portland Valderrivas in 1999. The Harleyville plant began operations in 1947. A $130 million expansion was completed in 2005.