April 12, 2008 — The head of a federal air quality monitoring team said the fire this week at the Bovoni Landfill has not affected the environment enough to warrant precautions for nearby residents.
Mike Solecki, on-scene coordinator for the Environmental Protection Agency, said the five-member team dispatched from Edison, N.J., is now sampling more for archival information, providing data about this kind of incident for future use.
"There was nothing unique about this fire," said Solecki.
"I think the fire department followed the appropriate procedures for extinguishing this fire by breaking down the piles and extinguishing smaller piles, rather than surrounding it and just fighting the surface fires. This cuts down on the amount of emissions given off by the fire," he said.
The fire had only been out for a couple of hours Thursday when Soleckis team began sampling the air at the site.
"We look for metals such as mercury and asbestos. Exposure to these metals over a long period of time can have long-term health effects, and that is why we look for them during one of these types of fires," said Solecki.
He said measured levels of mercury were "elevated, but way below an action level," meaning a level that would call for evacuations or warming residents to stay inside.
Solecki will make a report that will be reviewed by EPA and then archived in EPA files. A copy of the file will be supplied to the V.I. Department of Planning and Natural Resources.
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