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EPA's Response to Hillcrest Industries Fire

Release Date: 09/26/2012
Contact Information: Michael Basile (716) 551-4410 or (646) 369-0055 (cell); basile.michael@epa.gov

(Buffalo, New York) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently took the lead on responding to the fire inside a 50,000 ton pile of plastic, glass and other materials at the Hillcrest Industries facility in Attica, N.Y. The EPA is working in concert with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Wyoming County and Village of Attica. The EPA’s primary goal is to extinguish the fire as quickly as possible. In the past several days, the EPA has overseen the application of a fire suppression agent called F-500 into the piles where the fires are smoldering. This substance is designed to encapsulate and smother the fire by robbing it of oxygen. The EPA has determined that this approach has not been successful in this instance. The EPA has consulted with fire suppression experts and determined that the best method for putting out the fire is to break up the 40 foot high, one acre pile of material into smaller segments and put out the pockets of fire in those sections, extinguishing them with water and, if necessary, foam. This activity is likely to produce some intermittent increases in smoke, steam and odors from the facility.

In order to do the work, heavy equipment will be brought in to dismantle the large pile, and a system will be built to collect water that runs off the smaller piles during fire suppression. In addition, the EPA will set up an air monitoring network both on and off the site and will employ water foggers to help control the temporary increase in smoke as the fires are uncovered. The preparation work will begin immediately and the agency expects to begin breaking up the large pile on Saturday, September 29, 2012.

“The number one priority for the EPA is to put this fire out,” said Judith A. Enck, EPA Regional Administrator. “By breaking the piles apart, we can expose the fire and extinguish it in smaller, more manageable sections. While the work is going on, there may be an increase in the smoke and steam coming from the fires and also there may be visible steam or fog from the water misting system that will help us control this increased smoke. I want to assure the community near the site that we are doing everything possible to put this fire out quickly and eliminate any smoke or pollution from being released into the air.”

Every effort will be made to minimize the increase in smoke, steam and odors from the facility, but residents nearby may want to keep their windows closed, and children -- particularly those who have respiratory ailments -- should not play outdoors if there is visible smoke in the area.

The EPA has previously taken samples of air at the request of the DEC. That air sampling resumed this week when the agency took the lead on the response. Results from the first samples taken are being assessed and will be released shortly. Information related to the EPA’s efforts and data from the sampling will be posted at http://www.epa.gov/region02/superfund/removal/hillcrest/index.html.

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