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TCI Fire, Columbia County

All Tests at TCI Site and in the Surrounding Community Indicate No Threat to Public Health

State Officials Focus on Clean-Up Effort

Updated on September 20, 2012

Multiple series of tests associated with the TCI fire, which have been performed since August 2 and reviewed by state and federal officials, all show there is no threat to public health in the surrounding area.

All test results confirm there is not a threat to public health in the surrounding area as a result of the fire. All of the data indicates there is little evidence for people's potential exposure to PCBs, dioxins, or furans in the surrounding area from this fire. Therefore, no additional tests are necessary to evaluate people's exposure off-site.

Because all of the tests determined that PCBs and other contaminants are not present or present at low levels, no testing for dioxins or furans is necessary. Detectable levels of PCBs form the basis to determine the need to conduct additional tests for other potentially hazardous substances. Also, site information indicates the fire involved primarily containers of petroleum-based oil.

Test Results

The first series of testing from samples came back non-detect for PCBs. On August 2, DEC took 16 wipe samples from soot produced by the fire and analyzed them for PCBs. On August 3, DEC conducted further tests on 22 additional samples further away from the site in Philmont, Stuyvesant Falls, Kinderhook, Valatie, Claverack, Chatham and Austerlitz. To view a map showing the approximate locations of the soot samples collected on August 2 and 3 and the data for these sample locations, see the links below.

Initial on-site sampling of soil, oil and water was done by EPA. Results came back with only one hit of PCB in soil at 0.137 parts per million (ppm), which is very low and below the state standards for industrial (25 ppm) and residential (1 ppm) sites. To view the analytical results of these samples, see the link below.

A second series of sampling at the site tested for the presence of PCBs, heavy metals such as lead and chromium, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) and Semi-VOCs. One of the seven soil samples came back with a total PCB concentration of 2 ppm, which is well below the 25 ppm industrial cleanup level applicable to this site. Two samples found polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) which are typically found at all fire sites. Lead, which is naturally occurring, was found in all samples at levels below the industrial cleanup level. One sample contained one VOC - xylene - a component of gasoline at a low level. To view the analytical results of these samples, see the link below.

Additional testing at the site came back with similar results. A sediment sample, taken from a possible drainage area, contained PCB of 0.22 ppm. All other sediment samples taken further downstream of the facility have been found to be non-detect as well. A wastewater sample taken from the on-site septic system and a sample of groundwater taken from the on-site well were also non-detect. To view the analytical results of these samples, see Figure C -1 on Page 3 of the link below.

In accordance with the approved demolition workplan submitted by TCI of NY, wipe samples have been taken from building demolition materials in preparation for final disposal. Two reports from Crawford and Associates, TCI's consultants, are linked below. A grid has been formulated to account for each area of the damaged building, and the consultants have provided DEC with the initial analysis for numerous samples taken from steel debris as they demolish the building. Samples of that debris were taken on August 21 through August 24, 2012. Fifty-four samples taken from this debris were analyzed and 53 of those samples were non-detect for PCBs. One wipe sample was found to contain 1.4 ug/100cm2 of PCB 1254. This level of PCB is below the EPA's unrestricted use standard of 10 ug/100cm2. Debris contaminated at this very low level can be handled as typical fire wreckage.

On August 29, DEC received a report from Crawford and Associates for sampling of treated wastewater and wipe samples taken on August 27, 2012. According to the Order on Consent between DEC and TCI of NY, wastewater treated on site that meets established criteria may be used for dust suppression on site during demolition activities. The samples submitted to NYSDEC for treated wastewater had concentrations of Methyl t-butyl ether (MTBE) and Phenanthrene at 3.4 μg/L and 0.07 μg/L, respectively. These results are below the discharge standards set forth in the Order on Consent. Several wipe samples taken from steel demolition debris were analyzed for PCBs. All of the analyses indicated that no PCBs were present above detectable limits.

On August 30, DEC received a report from Crawford and Associates for sampling of treated wastewater and wipe samples taken on August 28, 2012. According to the Order on Consent between DEC and TCI of NY, wastewater treated on site that meets established criteria may be used for dust suppression on site during demolition activities. The samples submitted to DEC for treated wastewater had concentrations of Methyl t-butyl ether (MTBE) and Phenanthrene at 3.1 μg/L and 4.2 μg/L, respectively. These results are below the discharge standards set forth in the Order on Consent. Several wipe samples taken from steel demolition debris were analyzed for PCBs. Four (4) of the wipe samples show concentrations of PCB-1254 ranging from 1.1 to 1.3 μg/100cm2. These levels of PCB are below the EPA's unrestricted use standard of 10 ug/100cm2.

On August 31, DEC received two reports from Crawford and Associates providing analytical results for wipe samples taken on August 28-29 from demolition debris, rubble, and Tank T-7. The results were non-detect for PCBs for all samples except for rubble sample TC-158 which was found to have a total PCB concentration of 0.53 mg/kg. This is below the guidance value for PCBs in residential and commercial soil of 1.0 mg/kg.

On September 5, DEC received a report from Crawford and Associates providing analytical results for wipe samples taken on August 30 from demolition debris and rubble. The results were non-detect for PCBs for all samples. Rubble sample TC-177 contained low levels of petroleum-related constituents (e.g., 1,3,5-trimethylbenzene and ethylbenzene) at concentrations below DEC soil cleanup guidance levels. This report also includes the analytical results for a sample of waste/stormwater from inside the building area. The results were all less than the water discharge standards given in the order on consent except for benzene which had a concentration of 1.2 μg/L in comparison to the discharge standard of 1.0 μg/L. This water was stored for later treatment. Another sample of treated water was found to have no contaminants above the discharge standards in the consent order.

On September 13th, DEC received two reports from Crawford and Associates providing analytical results from samples taken at the TCI site on September 7th and 10th. These samples were taken from treated stormwater, demolition debris, and rubble. One sample of treated stormwater showed concentrations of MTBE, a constituent of motor fuel, below the discharge limits set by the Consent Order between NYSDEC and TCI. One rubble sample was found to show concentrations of PCBs at 0.5 mg/kg of PCB-1254. This contaminant level indicates that this rubble is below the level that is considered hazardous waste (<50 mg/kg). The rubble will be disposed as solid waste. All other samples reported showed no detection of PCBs.

On September 18th, DEC received a report from Crawford and Associates for sampling taken from the TCI site on September 17th. These samples were taken from demolition debris in Areas 8D and 8F, along with a sample of soil stockpiled on site for characterization before moving it offsite. All of the samples in this round of sampling were non-detect for PCBs, and the soil was also non-detect for hydrocarbons.

Site Cleanup

The state's efforts are now focused on appropriate site cleanup. The first steps in site cleanup will include debris removal and stabilization of the remaining structures. Subsequently, an environmental investigation will be performed in the area surrounding the site which will involve sampling the soil and groundwater. Additional sampling may be performed as needed based on initial findings. DEC expects there will be minimal environmental impact beyond the immediate fire site. The cleanup will be performed by a contractor hired by TCI under the oversight of DEC and the state Health Department. A consent order was signed between TCI and DEC on August 16, 2012 which establishes how water from the site will be treated to remove PCBs before it is discharged and requires TCI to submit a demolition workplan and a second workplan for an onsite environmental investigation in the area surrounding the building footprint. To view the consent order, see the link below.

The investigation has determined that three transformers located inside the facility at the time of the fire contained levels of PCBs between 1,000 and 2,000 ppm. As site debris removal is still underway, state officials have not yet been able to access these transformers to determine their status. However, all test results continue to indicate that PCBs and other contaminants are not present or present at low levels. Site information continues to indicate the fire involved primarily containers of petroleum-based oil. To view a letter from TCI detailing what was in the building at the time of the fire, see the link below.

For More Information

Information on the appropriate methods to clean exterior surfaces, interior surface and gardens, information can be found on the state Health Department's website.

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 - 518-402-7800


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