GNH Lumber February 2024

Emergency lifted, tests detect no PCBs


W. GHENT—At about 3 p.m. today, August 2, the Columbia County Emergency Management Office rescinded the previous 15-mile radius advisory associated with the chemical fire at TCI of New York, 39 Falls Industrial Park Road, a transformer recycling operation.

The fire which fed off 20,000 gallons of mineral oil, propane and fuel oil at the facility, burned for 15 hours before firefighters from 19 fire departments in Columbia and Rensselaer counties were able to put it out.

Officials have lifted the State of Emergency and say residents may resume normal activities.

Some Columbia County residents voiced concern to county officials that they were not made aware of the potentially hazardous blaze until many hours after it started.

Rensselaer County officials were able to notify local residents with a reverse 911 system in place in that county. Columbia County does not have such a system and tried to get the word out via media of all types, including facebook.

Testing for particulate and volatile organic compounds turned up nothing of concern and “swipe tests “ for PCBs did not detect any, according to a press release from the County Office of Emergency Management.

The tests are being conducted by state officials and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Additional tests are being conducted and those results are expected tomorrow. A representative from the Department of Homeland Security promised to provide resources associated with getting rid of soot.

Damp rags used to wipe off soot off should be placed in a plastic garbage bag and stored until further information is released about what to do with them.

For up-to-date information regarding test results and recommendations for decontamination from the Department of Health refer to http:// or contact the Columbia County Health Department at 518 828-3358.

The state Department of Health has released General Recommendations for Clean-up of Soot/Ash from the TCI of New York facility fire and recommendations about gardens, pets and home drinking water wells.

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


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.

Personal protection measures:

Protective clothing such as rubber gloves, long sleeves, long pants, closed- toed shoes are

recommended. If conditions are dusty or material is airborne, then the use of an N-95 particulate

respirator is recommended. These respirators can be purchased at hardware or home centers.

Emergency Vehicles/Turn Out Gear:

Hose/wash affected exterior surfaces in close proximity to the TCI facility. The facility property

has a liner under the property and surface ground direction will contain the effluent from the

washing. Interiors of emergency vehicles can be vacuumed with High Efficiency Particulate

(HEPA) vacuums or wet washed as appropriate.

Recommendations about 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.


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.


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