Thursday’s 7:30 pm meeting of the Ghent Town Board has been moved down the road about 4/10ths of a mile to the V.F.W. hall, located off Route 66 behind The Columbia Paper’s office. The change was announced Wednesday evening on the Town’s website; evidently a crowd must be expected.
On Thursday at 7:30 pm, the Ghent Town Board will hold its regularly-scheduled meeting. Many expect there will be people present to ask the Town’s leaders for their thoughts on the towering August 1st inferno at TCI. (So far, there has been no public statement on the issue from the Town apart from a well-deserved thank you to first responders.)
Much has been learned about TCI of NY and its operations since the fire. But each piece of new information has itself raised many new doubts and concerns. Below are just 20 of the more obvious and urgent questions* that remain to be answered:
Which operations at the TCI site actually had Town of Ghent permits—if any?
Why would a business which reportedly has millions in annual revenues pay less than $4,200 in total County, Fire and Town taxes?
What has been the cost to the Town, County, State and Feds from this fire, and which of those costs will be reimbursed?
Why did State reps from DEC decline to take samples of the oily, black clumps which fell all over nearby residents’ houses and properties, some of whom have had to replace their pools?
When was explosive sodium introduced into the facility on Falls Industrial Park Road—and why was 880 gallons of it being stored near nitrogen and flammable materials?
Since sodium is used to dechlorinate and detoxify PCBs, were PCBs being treated onsite—and if so, was there a laboratory set up there for this purpose?
Why were PCB transformers found onsite with levels in the 1,000-2,000 parts per million (ppm) range, when the company had promised to only accept drained transformers, and has stated that it only handled concentrations less than 50 ppm?
Does the Laskin family still have a financial stake in the company, and what do the present owners have to say for themselves?
How many people were really working at TCI, how many are still on payroll, and why haven’t we heard from them?
Given that Newburgh’s firefighters destroyed their equipment after exposure to a fire there, and condemned TCI’s previous facility, and that Athens’ firefighters rejected the company entirely, is it fair to continue exposing first responders to such extraordinary risks?
Considering TCI’s history in Newburgh and Athens, and the death of a young worker in its Ghent facility, and the company’s protracted
litigation with neighbors and the Town of Ghent over a late ’80s
incinerator proposal, and its abortive attempt to add household hazardous
waste in the ’90s, and their apparent expansion of activities, and the two recent
fires, is it unreasonable to view this company as a “nuisance industry,” as prohibited by the Ghent Zoning Code?
What is the status of the investigation into the fire’s cause, given that this was the second fire at TCI this year—and is this part of a pattern of devastating structure fires in the 9H corridor, including at least one that has been deemed arson?
Why did the Town Board miss the portion of the public meeting at the West Ghent Fire Station which did not overlap with their own (much briefer) meeting earlier that evening—and why did TCI and all but one County Supervisor skip it, too?
What if anything was done in the days after the Wednesday night fire to prevent runoff from the site (knowing that a large storm was coming on Sunday), and what is being discharged now into the nearby Widow’s Creek, with the State’s apparent blessing??
Why hasn’t the hotspot of PCBs found on the TCI site resulted in further testing in the surrounding area, why wasn’t the more expensive and accurage form of testing done, as recommended by experts such as Dr. David Carpenter and Dr. Mitchell Gaynor—and why didn’t any officials insist on performing the testing for highly-carcinogenic dioxin, which was originally promised?
If residents downwind have developed health problems (or develop them later) which might be related to this fire, do they have any recourse besides paying for their own investigations and health care?
The full set of reports on TCI by this site can be read (in reverse chronological order) by clicking here.
* ENDNOTE: A request was sent to the company for an interview a month ago, but no response has been received to date. If TCI (or anyone else) wishes to respond to any of these questions, they are invited to do so in the comments or by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org