The City of Newburgh has long been known as one of the more troubled places in the Hudson Valley. But when Newburgh experienced a series of problems with a company called Transcycle Industries—later known as TCI of NY—its leaders acted decisively to protect its residents and other businesses.
And Newburgh got assistance in that process from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), and the Attorney General’s office.
The headlines above are from newspaper articles published in the mid-1980s, as the mid-Hudson Valley media (especially the Times Herald-Record) worked hard to document Transcycle’s chronic problems. A March 4, 1985 article in the paper stated that Transcycle “has been the subject of controversy almost since beginning operation in the city.”
After putting up some token resistance to Newburgh’s firm response, TCI left under a cloud, and started looking for a new host community. First it tried to built in Athens, but was rejected. Eventually, it would up in Ghent in 1986, where its plans seemed to have received far less scrutiny.
Articles from the mid-’80s, such as the Herald-Record report at right, include a wealth of information about Transcycle’s last few years in Newburgh, including statements such as the following from February 5, 1985 by local Fire Chief James A. Barry:
- “I don’t want that type of operation in the City, I don’t think it is in the best interest of the residents of the city or my fire people.”
Barry and other City officials noted in a February that it was not enough for the company to obtain State permits for its operations; it also required local approval.
On February 9th, the paper was reported that Transcycle had been cited for various code volations, including a lack of local permits for storing PCBs and gasoline as well as “not having someone posted to watch for fires,” “not having the proper conditions for welding and cutting,” and “using kerosene heaters” in its building.
The Beacon-Newburgh Evening News likewise reported that day that “city officials shut down Transcycle… as the fire department condemned 26 Renswick Street [as] the second blaze in two months broke out at the plant Tuesday.”
The media record continues to reveal problem after problem at Transcycle during this period, including costs to the City and first responders, such as these reported on by the Herald-Record on January 16, 1985:
- “City Fire Chief James A. Barry said yesterday that he will recommend replacing coats, boots and gloves for nine firefighters who were exposed to minor levels of toxic PCBs… during a Saturday fire at Transcycle Industries… because those clothing items are porous and can come in contact with the wearer’s skin. He estimated that the department will spend $2,700 to replace the clothing.”
From February 20, 1985:
- “State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) police charged the firm with transporting regulated wastes without a permit.
- “[T]he violation stems from the DEC’s discovery of a truckload of utility transformer cores from Transcyle at Consolidated Iron and Metal Co. Inc., a riverfront junkyard… owned by Edward Laskin. His son, David Laskin, runs Transcycle two blocks away.”
From April 1, 1985:
- “Transcycle was issued DEC citations for violating waste transporting regulations. Each charge carried a possible fine of $1,000 to $2,500.”
- “One of the alleged violations was Transcycle’s lack of a city permit to store toxic materials, such as oil containing polychlorinated biphenyls, commonly known as PCBs, at the plant.
- “At the end of February the city Zoning Board of Appeals revoked Transcycle’s special operating permit.”
- “Neighbors of the plant, who contend the permit should never have been granted, are continuing their two-year legal battle in state Supreme Court.”
Evidently seeking to cut its losses and move on, Transcycle made a $4,000 settlement in October 1985 with the New York State Attorney General’s office to resolve charges that “the company violated the toxic substances law by not training the employees to handle [PCBs], nor were proper employee records kept of exposure.”
So far in the wake of TCI’s far larger Ghent inferno, there have been no reports of any violations or fines being levied against the company.