EPA reports fire is out at Hillcrest Industries

News and analysis by Dan Telvock, Investigative Post's environmental reporter

The EPA reports there are no detectable levels of volatile organic compounds near Hillcrest Industries in Attica, where a huge pile of unprocessed recyclable glass and plastic caught fire.

The source of the fire has been this pile of recycled glass and plastic at Hillcrest Industries in Attica. (photo courtesy of EPA)

The fire was officially extinguished Sunday, according to an EPA press release. Now, the EPA is reducing the size of the 40-foot, 50,000-ton pile into more manageable piles. The EPA will monitor the temperature of the pile until the material is either used or removed from the property.

The fire was discovered in May after residents started reporting an odor coming from the property. The state Department of Environmental Conservation and the EPA have been working together since September on putting out the fire and monitoring air quality near the site. The EPA will remain on site to ensure the fire does not reignite.

Air monitors near and at Attica High School did not detect any levels of pollutants, according to EPA community involvement organizer Mike Basile. The EPA still advised school officials to avoid outdoor activities because the odors, steam and smoke coming from the pile could irritate respiratory systems. Local residents were reportedly filing a lawsuit against Hillcrest.

Air quality testing conducted Sept. 13 for 68 volatile organic compounds found 31 of those chemicals in the air but most were not at elevated levels to cause concern, Basile said.  Only benzene had been found to be above healthy levels outside the property, but Basile said it was only one off-site sample.