The Niagara County Department of Health is taking water and air samples in response to the raging fire at the tire recycling plant in Lockport.
"The health of our community is our priority," said Public Health Director Daniel Stapleton.
"All residents that were at most risk of smoke inhalation were evacuated by the Lockport Fire Incident Commander," said Environmental Health Director Paul Dicky. "We have conducted routine air sampling in areas downwind of the fire and are working with the Lockport drinking water supply operator to monitor the water quality."
To alleviate cloudiness of the public water systems, firefighters coordinated to draw water from the canal. The canal water does not enter municipal water lines.
Director Dicky says the Niagara County Water District System is routinely tested to prepare for emergencies, such as this one. He says the valves and systems were most recently tested in May.
"Fortunately, the water levels are beginning to rebound in the City of Lockport water system," said Dicky. "Water quality assuredness confirmation testing will continue for the next 24-48 hours."
The Environmental Health Division is also working with DEC officials to evaluate the environmental impact of the fire and run-off from water used in fire suppression.
Niagara County Environmental Health engineers will also continue to monitor the air quality and safety during the duration of the fire. Testing for volatile organic compounds (VOC) show readings of zero and oxygen levels in the surrounding air are normal.
"People who live or work in the surrounding area can expect the extremely acrid smell from the burned tires to linger for a few days to weeks," said Dicky. "The smell may be aggravating, but the odor itself poses no health risk."
Residents may find a layer of fine soot on outdoor patios, furniture, and play equipment. Hosing down or washing with a mild detergent solution will remove it.
"We thank the community for their cooperation in following the evacuation orders," said Stapleton. "Their support of our efforts to protect their own well-being is commendable. We promise to keep the public informed of any health issues that may arise as we work through this situation."
Redis\dents with questions or concerns should call the Environmental Health Division at 439-7444.