Environmental Protection

EPA Measures VOCs at NY Site

The agency on Sept. 28 released its evaluation of air samples taken about two weeks earlier at the Hillcrest Industries site in Attica, N.Y., and the surrounding community.

Air samples taken Sept. 13 by EPA at the Hillcrest Industries site in Attica, N.Y., and the surrounding community found 31 volatile organic compounds, most well below health-based screening values, the agency announced Sept. 28. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation requested that EPA conduct the sampling.

EPA said the samples were analyzed for 68 VOCs. Levels of those detected were higher on the site than in the surrounding community, as expected. EPA asked the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry to evaluate the data, as well. The data and a map of sampling locations are on EPA's web page at http://www.epa.gov/region02/superfund/removal/hillcrest/index.html.

The facility processes glass fragments into reflective road striping beads and abrasive sandblasting materials, and it processes hardened residue collected from off-site coal boilers. A pile containing glass fragments mixed with plastic, paper, and metal generated from household recycling that the plant uses to make sandblasting materials and reflective glass beads generated odors that state authorities were investigating, and the pile began to smolder as the household waste broke down, according to EPA.

Levels of benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and styrene were elevated on top of the pile, EPA reported. Levels of benzene in one off-site sample were higher than the health-based screening values, which suggests benzene may be migrating off site.

"While the numbers we use in determining health risk are conservative, there is no doubt that benzene is bad for people and this data underscores the need to put this fire out as quickly as possible, which is what the EPA is now working to do," said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. "We have consulted with health experts and we will be suppressing dust and smoke from the site to minimize the amount of pollution leaving the immediate site, and we will be doing further air monitoring."

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