Contact Us

Newsroom

News Releases from Region 2

 

EPA Releases Air Data from Hillcrest Industries Fire; Agency Creates New Web Page to Post Information

Release Date: 09/28/2012
Contact Information: Mike Basile (716) 551-4410 or (646) 369-0055; basile.michael@epa.gov

(Buffalo, N.Y.) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has finished its evaluation of data from samples taken at the Hillcrest Industries site and surrounding community to measure for volatile organic compounds in the air. At EPA’s request, the data was also evaluated by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, an agency that advises EPA on health issues. The data and a map of sampling locations are on EPA’s web page at http://www.epa.gov/region02/superfund/removal/hillcrest/index.html

At the request of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, EPA took samples on September 13, 2012 at ten locations on the site and in the community surrounding the site. The samples were analyzed for 68 individual volatile organic compounds. Thirty one of those compounds were detected. Most were well below health based screening values. As expected, levels of those contaminants that were detected were higher on the site than in the surrounding community.

The data show elevated levels of benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and styrene on top of the pile. This confirms previous air sampling showing that the burning pile is emitting these chemicals. Levels of these pollutants off the Hillcrest site were nearly all below health-based screening values. Levels of benzene in one off-site sample was elevated above the health-based screening values and suggest that benzene is possibly migrating off-site into the community.

“While the numbers we use in determining health risk are conservative, there is no doubt that benzene is bad for people and this data underscores the need to put this fire out as quickly as possible, which is what the EPA is now working to do,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “We have consulted with health experts and we will be suppressing dust and smoke from the site to minimize the amount of pollution leaving the immediate site and we will be doing further air monitoring.”

The EPA is setting up air monitors to test the air as it begins its work to break up the pile and extinguish the fire. The monitors will test for volatile organic compounds, such as benzene, and semi-volatile organic compounds, as well as particulate matter. This monitoring will begin Friday evening or Saturday morning.

While the work to break up the pile is going on, there may be an increase in visible smoke, steam or odors from the facility. Residents are advised that they may want to keep their windows closed and children, the elderly and people with respiratory conditions should avoid being outdoors if they see smoke.

The EPA has developed a web page to provide people with information about its response. The data discussed above is posted and future data and informational updates will be posted to the web site.

For more information, members of the community can contact Mike Basile at 646-369-0055 or visit the web: http://www.epa.gov/region02/superfund/removal/hillcrest/index.html.

12-125