State Department of Health Provides Update and Offers Safety Tips After TCI Fire

ALBANY, N.Y. (August 3, 2012)> – Initial tests conducted at the site of a large industrial fire at TCI of New York in Ghent do not indicate any detectable levels of hazardous materials of concern as a result of the blaze.

"At this time in the investigation, there is no reason to believe that there is a threat to the public from any type of hazardous material as a result of the fire," Guthrie Birkhead, M.D., M.P.H., deputy commissioner of the State Health Department said.

Real-time sampling conducted yesterday at the TCI site by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and wipe sampling performed by the state Department of Environmental Conservation(DEC) shows no evidence of a public health concern. As a precaution, DEC will expand its wipe sampling to a 15-mile radius of the TCI site.

Samples collected near the incident site, which is where the highest concentration of any hazardous materials would typically be found, were determined to have no detectable PCBs.

In the unlikely event that future test results require any change to protocols and recommendations already in place regarding the cleanup of soot and ash, gardens, pets, and home drinking water wells, the public will be notified immediately.

The following procedures are intended for those areas that have a visible accumulation of soot and dust from the fire:

  • Exterior Surfaces (including vehicles) - Use water and detergent to spray off accumulated deposits. In the event the residue is sticky then the addition of stronger cleaning solution such as tri-sodium phosphate (TSP) may be used. TSP can be purchased at local hardware stores.

  • Air Conditioning Vents and Filters - Before turning on any air conditioning unit, be sure to inspect for visible dust/soot. Disposable filters should be replaced. Filters that can be washed and re-used should be washed with water and detergent as discussed above to remove any visible dust/soot. Outside of air conditioning units can be washed to remove soot and deposits.

  • Interior Surfaces - In the event any dust or soot is visible inside a building use wet washing with detergent and water in a bucket. Change water frequently. Vacuuming should only be performed with a High Efficiency Particulate (HEPA) vacuum or equivalent.

All exterior wash water should be hosed down with fresh water and cleared away from structures as best as possible. Wash water should also be diverted from vegetable gardens or areas where children may play.

DOH recommendations for Gardens, Pets, and Home Drinking Water Wells

  • Gardens - Discard garden produce with visible soot/ash on its surface. Otherwise, all produce from any garden should be thoroughly washed with clean water and or peeled prior to consumption. Extra care should be taken with leafy vegetables, as their leaves may trap soot/ash. Constituents in soot/ash that may remain on the surface of soil are not likely to be taken up into plants or vegetables. In most areas (i.e., areas where there is no or only minor evidence of ash or soot) ample watering (or rain) is expected to be sufficient to reduce presence of soot/ash in surface soil. However, if there is extensive deposition of soot/ash (e.g., a thick visible layer) you could consider removing and discarding the soot/ash, and then tilling the soil or adding clean soil at a future date.

  • Pets - Exposure of pets to soot from the fire is not expected to harm them. If your pet is dirty or dusty with soot from the fire, you may wish to wash them with an appropriate shampoo or soap. If the water or food supply for pets is visibly contaminated with soot, it should be replaced. If you are concerned about substantial amounts of soot indoors or outdoors, follow the "General Recommendations for Clean-up of Soot/Ash from the TCI of New York Facility Fire."

  • Home Drinking Water Wells - Contamination of home drinking water wells from this event is extremely unlikely. People can continue to use their wells as they normally would.

  • Swimming Pools – Skim the surface of visible floating debris with a net. Empty out filter baskets and clean them with water and a detergent then rinse. Vacuum the pool. Repeat if necessary. Run filter backwash or replace filter cartridges.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation. If you have any questions please call your local or state health department.

Columbia County - 518-828-3358

Rensselaer County - 518-270-2674

New York State Department of Health - 518-474-4354 ext. 1

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