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For Release: Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Series of Test Results at TCI Site and in the Surrounding Community Indicate No Threat to Public Health

State Officials Focus On Clean-Up Effort

Multiple series of tests associated with the TCI fire reviewed by state and federal officials all show there is no threat to public health in the surrounding area, the New York State Department of Health concluded today. The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, NYS Department of Health and NYS Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services combined to review the latest test results from the site.

The latest 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.

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.

"The latest test results confirm our earlier findings that there is not a threat to public health in the surrounding area as a result of the fire," Guthrie Birkhead, M.D., M.P.H., deputy commissioner of the State Health Department said. "All of the data we have indicates that there is little evidence for people's potential exposure to PCBs, dioxins and furans in the surrounding area from this fire. Therefore, no additional tests are necessary to evaluate people's exposure off-site. People should be proceeding with the appropriate cleaning of surfaces and gardens as outlined in our previous directions."

Most of the material that burned appears to have contained no or low levels of PCBs, as confirmed by the absence of detectable levels of PCBs in 32 soot wipe samples collected near the fire and in the surrounding community. Therefore, the formation of extensive or high levels of dioxins and furans is unlikely. Any dioxins and furans formed by this fire are likely to be at the levels that would be found in many kinds of fires and do not warrant additional testing.

Previous Tests
Previous testing from samples came back non-detect for PCBs. On Aug. 2, DEC took 16 wipe samples from soot produced by the fire and analyzed them for PCBs. On Aug. 3, DEC conducted further tests on 22 additional samples further away from the site in Philmont, Stuyvesant Falls, Kinderhook, Valatie, Claverack, Chatham and Austerlitz.

Initial on-site sampling of soil, oil and water was done Thursday 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.

Site Cleanup
The state's efforts will now turn to 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 a 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.

For More Information
Information on the appropriate methods to clean exterior surfaces, interior surface and gardens can be found on the state Health Department's website at: http://www.health.ny.gov/press/releases/2012/2012-08-03_ghent_fire.htm.

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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