The federal Environmental Protection Agency has taken the lead on investigating a burning pile of recycled plastic at a facility in Attica that village residents say has led to a foul smell and health concerns.
Rep. Kathleen C. Hochul, D-Hamburg, announced the EPA's involvement Thursday.
"I am very pleased to receive the administrator's personal assurance that she is directly involved in resolving this matter, which continues to disrupt the lives of my constituents," Hochul said in a news release.
Recycled plastic, as well as fragments of glass have been burning at temperatures up to 750 degrees outside Hillcrest Industries in Attica, causing a potent stench throughout the area. Residents say they haven't been able to open windows or enjoy the summer weather because the stench is so strong.
Until recently, the state Department of Environmental Conservation was handling the investigation. But the EPA has stepped in because it has more resources to better assess the long-term environmental and health risks of the emissions.
The EPA is partnering with the DEC to do the following, according to the release: Mobilize personnel and communicate with federal agencies to control the fire and emissions; take the lead on testing and remediation efforts; keep the public and schools informed; and seek cost recovery for taxpayers from the responsible company.
One person created a Facebook page in June called "Something Stinks in Attica New York" that now has more than 800 members.
The description of the page calls Attica the "Official Asthma Capital of New York State," and citizens are constantly posting about the smells and other issues. According to the page, some residents have moved out of the area due to health concerns.
Wednesday night, village officials held a public meeting where residents could address their concerns.
One resident who spoke up was Jeffrey Huber, who lives on Georges Drive near the facility. He and his wife have been unable to enjoy their outdoor porch during the summer and are facing health problems.
Huber said he was coughing throughout the summer and couldn't figure out why. Then, after a windy summer day when the windows were open, he noticed a black film on his window sills. Testing by the DEC confirmed it was coal ash residual and small glass fragments.
He has installed air conditioning or purifiers in every room of his house and won't even mow the lawn without wearing a protective mask. He's glad the EPA is stepping in, because he doesn't believe the authorities have done enough to address the issue.
"I'm sick. I don't feel good right now, and a lot of people are experiencing the same things," he said. "I'm absolutely disgusted at all factions of government that have let down the people of Attica."