Cleanup, health concern latest on Lackawanna fire

Hotline Set Up For Bethlehem Park Residents

LACKAWANNA, N.Y. -- Officials discussed the next steps in cleanup and testing for health hazards at the former Bethlehem Steel site during a news conference Thursday. 

Cleanup and air monitoring continue after the massive fire at the former Bethlehem Steel site, which broke out Nov. 9. The news conference Thursday was held at Lackawanna's City Hall. 

Officials at the press conference said that Great Lakes Industrial Development, the owner of the former Bethlehem Steel fire property, would take responsibility for the cleanup costs of homes affected by the fire. The company says it will reimburse homeowners for interior expenses as a result of the fire or have a smoke damage restoration company go to their home and clean soot and debris -- with Great Lakes picking up the tab.

Officials say the company is not legally responsible to do this, but is doing so voluntarily.

Those interested in having the costs of their home cleanup covered in the area can call 716-207-8685. 

"With regard to receipts, if they have incurred cost, they should save those receipts and transferring those over to Great Lakes," said Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz. And, officials say the company will not reimburse for medical costs.

REPORTER: Realistically, how long would it take to file a claim and process that claim?

"That answer is unknown at this time," said Lackawanna mayor Geoff Syzmanski.

In addition, officials said the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) would start doing ground testing in the near future -- although a specific time has not been announced. They also said asbestos is a concern that will be looked into further. 

Also, officials said additional meetings will be held to keep the public informed on cleanup and testing around the Lackawanna Fire site. 

A big question many still have is what was the cause of the fire? Officials say that is still unknown. Officials say emergency demolition debris has been taken to a landfill, however much debris still remains and it will be up to Great Lakes to decide what to do with these remains.


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