Environmental issues monitored in aftermath of Lockport fire

Aug 12, 2016

Environmental experts at the scene of the tire recycling plant fire in Lockport are looking for air or water pollution problems.

An oily sheen has developed along the Erie Canal in Lockport. Firefighters have been using the canal water as they worked to contain the fire a tire recycling facility.
Credit Mike Desmond/WBFO News

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is handling water issues. Vast amounts of water from the State Barge Canal and the city water system are being used to douse the massive fire. An oil and debris sheen has emerged on the canal, according to Lockport Mayor Ann McCaffrey.

Air pollution checks are going on, using real-time meters that are looking for what might be coming from a site with vast amounts of burning crumb rubber plus some asbestos in older buildings. The DEC said Thursday there are thousands of one-ton bags of crumb rubber in the plant, but it was not known whether that is how the fire started.

County Environmental Health Division Director Paul Dicky says no air problems are showing up on the meters.
"It's very similar to a structure fire of any nature where you have all sorts of plastics and synthetics and asphalt roofing burning," said Dickey. "The smoke from a fire can be considered rather noxious. This tire fire being really no different."

Smoky air remained present in Lockport more than 24 hours after a fire emerged at a tire recycling plant.
Credit Mike Desmond/WBFO News

Even so, Dicky says underlying health problems, such as COPD, might be triggered in residents by smoke that may not bother healthy people. Individuals with health problems are encouraged to stay away from the fire scene for the time being.