Not mentioned so far during the debate about TCI’s two fires (and desire to remain) in Ghent isthe company’s brief stay in the Town of Greenport during the late 1980s, after being kicked out of Ulster County.
And, as happened before with its mismanagement in Newburgh and later in Ghent, TCI’s Greenport activities resulted in a major explosion.
A front-page article in the June 22nd, 1987 edition of The Register-Star reported that a transformer blast that day “rocked an area within a half-mile” of TCI’s facility on the Industrial Tract.
The “blast” threw worker Louis Smith of Stuyvesant 20 feet, and landing him in Columbia Memorial Hospital with undisclosed injuries:
The explosion was audible at the Greenport town hall, according to Greenport Officer-in-Charge John Hawks... Greenport firemen were called to the scene [along with] Columbia County Sheriff Paul Proper and Undersheriff James Bertram.
EnCon officials were expected to arrive on the scene later this morning. Some transformers contain levels of PCBs. It was unknown this morning whether the explosion caused any leakage of the suspected carcinogens.
By 1988, TCI was reëstablished on Falls Industrial Road in Ghent, the blast apparently not having given that Town’s planning board any cause for concern. In March 1989, a young TCI worker (also named Smith, but no known relation) died after being overcome by fumes at TCI’s new plant.
The search for this article was prompted by a brief mention in a 1989 report on the fatality, alluding to the earlier Greenport explosion, spotted by Patti Matheney of GhentCANN.
Why this earlier explosion has never come up is anyone’s guess. Perhaps the barrage of major news of 1987—the Wiley Gates trial, a massive October snowstorm, the televised testimony of Philmont native Ollie North, the death of Jackie Gleason?—somehow blotted this event from local memory.