Attica Struggles with Obnoxious Odor

8:55 AM, Aug 23, 2012   |    comments
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ATTICA, N.Y.- Residents can attest: something's rotten in the village of Attica.

"It smells like burning garbage or burning plastic type smell. It's nothing like you've ever smelled before," said Village Trustee John Perry. He says he's heard from dozens of people about how currently, the quality of life in Attica, well... stinks.

Hundreds of residents trapped inside, reliant on air conditioning rather than the cool evening breeze, have formed a Facebook group.

"You want to sit and have barbecues on your deck, you just can't do that," said Perry. "You can't sit outside, cook with your family, have dinner."

The problem is a massive pile of recycling material; it's about forty feet tall and 200 feet wide. It's mostly glass, but it also contains plastic, paper, metal, even food material.

And now: It's decomposing.

"It's something that if you smell it, you want to get away from it right away," said Perry.

It sits on the property of Hillcrest Industries, the company that uses it to make glass beads used in road paint and sandblasting material.

The company also uses coal ash, which residents say drifts into the neighborhood along with small glass particles.

"Recently its more of a chemical burning garbage smell,"said Jacquie Hiczewsky, a resident. "Really strong to the point where it burns your eyes, makes your eyes water, and it burns when you breathe."

Hiczewsky says her 4-year-old son has developed Asthma this summer.

"They've done all types of testing, there are no allergies," said Hiczewsky. "They said it was mostly environmental."

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is investigating Hillcrest's operations, but has released a report that states: "The preliminary toxic organic compound analysis results indicate no health concerns."

"Why are we getting headaches?" said Hiczewsky. "Why are our eyes watering? Why does it burn to breathe?"

Hillcrest has hired environmental consultant Peter Tarnawskyj, and has tried a number of methods to contain the smell.

They've used sprays, chemicals to neutralize the smell and a plastic cover. Currently they've installed a series of wells, and are injecting nitrogen and carbon dioxide into the pile to try and starve it of oxygen, and hopefully slow or stop decomposition.

2 On Your Side's Sarah Hopkins asked Tarnawskyj: "What's taken so long to find an answer to this issue?"

"This is a very unusual problem," said Tarnawskyj. "We basically had to figure out how to attack the problem, so there wasn't really a precedent to go on."

He says next week they will try another method, which he is optimistic will work.

"We've hired a contractor to come in and put a spray-on cover, which is similar to stucco or gunite, which is sprayed on and contains cement, which hardens up and provides a barrier for odor to come out of the pile and for oxygen to get into the pile," said Tarnawskyj.

"They're saying that they're trying new technologies and that they're doing things," said Hiczewsky. "But it doesn't seem like they're doing it fast enough, or even that they're doing anything at all."












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