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Buffalo lawmakers seek answers in industrial fires

By Eileen Buckley


Buffalo, NY – The Buffalo Common Council has many questions about two recent industrial fires in the city. Lawmakers passed a resolution Tuesday requesting that the relevant agencies investigate.

The resolution calls on city, state and federal agencies to determine the danger presented by industrial fires.

Lawmakers want Goldman Titanium on Dorothy Street to be assessed for its safety record. A recent fire was the fifth fire at the company since the 1990's.

Common Council president and Fillmore District Council member David Franczyk sponsored the resolution.

"This was all done before zoning instituted in 1916, so you have a lot of anachronistic type industries in neighborhoods and we just can't let the public be in any kind of danger with any kind of emissions," said Franczyk.

Lawmakers want to determine if the company is a threat to the health and welfare of the community. Goldman recycles titanium. Residents living near the facility have been concerned for years. Firefighters could only use foam to put out the blaze because water reacts violently to titanium. "We talked to the fire commissioner, and they did a great job that day, but he said we are very lucky because there was rain predicted for that day and with titanium it is very volatile when it reacts with rain," said Francyzk.

A week before the Goldman blaze, there was a huge industrial fire at Niagara Lubricants on Chandler Street. Air samples taken by the Clean Air Coalition of Western New York ten hours after the July 13th fire showed high levels of benzene. Residents were never evacuated. They were only told to stay inside with their windows closed. Delaware District lawmaker Michael LoCurto said it time to define evacuation and air testing plans.

"We want to err on the side of caution, and it might have been a better idea to evacuate an area since the air wasn't able to be tested. If it's such a big fire that they can't test the air, I think we should work with some kind of an arrangement where we could get another agency in or somebody else to do that testing," said LoCurto.

North District lawmaker Joe Golombek wants to know why the air from the Chandler Street fire was not tested by the DEC or EPA.

"It shouldn't have been up to a group of volunteers to go and have a little $30 or $40 test kit to test the air. And I understand with over 100 Buffalo firefighters fighting the fire, but with the DEC and EPA somebody should have been testing that air," said Golombek.

Lawmakers said they're concerned that the Buffalo fire department does not have sufficient training or resources for these types of industrial blazes.