Air Test Shows High Levels of Benzene After Industrial Fire

July 25, 2011 Updated Jul 26, 2011 at 9:52 AM EDT

By WKBW Internet

July 25, 2011 Updated Jul 26, 2011 at 9:52 AM EDT

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) - A number of residents, along with members from the Clean Air Coalition, met Monday evening to discuss the results of a recent air quality test near the site of the July 13th industrial fire at the Niagara Lubricant plant on Chandler Street in Buffalo.

Those results showed elevated levels of dangerous chemicals, most notably Benzene. The EPA considers about 9 ppm to be a safe level of Benzene over an 8 hour period. The air near the Chandler Street industrial blaze showed levels of 100 ppm.

Other chemicals like Xylene and Syrene were also at above average levels, but did not exceed the EPA's "safe" level.

As a result, community members are petitioning county and city leaders along with members of the EPA and other organizations to attend an August meeting to develop a safety and emergency plan to enact during air quality events like the Chandler Street fire.

"People are concerned they weren't evacuated. No one knows what was in the air or in the factory," said Natasha Soto from the Clean Air Coalition.

The goal is to set up a procedure for communities to provide residents with a plan should evacuation be required, and also to set up a standard for when neighborhoods should be evacuated when air quality is an issue.

"I don't mind living around industrial things but I want to make sure that we're safe. I want to make sure that all the preventatives that can be done are being done. I know nothing is 100 percent, but I want it to be 98.9," said Buffalo resident Mary Taber.

The group composed a letter that is being sent to government and agency leaders, but have yet to set a date for the potential meeting.