Saturday, August 4, 2012

About the Air Around Us

At 7:28 on Friday night, the Register-Star published an update online about the quality of the air: "Officials: Air test came back with "acceptable levels." According to the report, no PCBs were found in soot samples collected at the site and "real-time air monitoring done by [EPA] for particulate and volatile compounds 'found no levels of concern.'" The article points out, however, that the results from EPA testing for PCBs has not yet been received and no testing has been done for dioxins (which is what PCBs become when burned). It concludes with comments from Ed Simonsen, a retired chemical analyst and chemistry teacher who chairs the Columbia County Environmental Management Council, and reports that Simonsen is "guardedly skeptical" about the news that the air is free of toxins.

Sam Pratt's comments on the state of things are now on his blog: "Hurry up and wait for TSI test results." See also "Releasing confusion," in which Pratt reproduces and comments on the statement released Friday by the Columbia County Emergency Management Office.


  1. The County's release (reproduced now at my site) is perplexing in several respects:

    1. Releasing these statements after the close of business, when follow-up questions could not be addressed;

    2. Not providing access to the actual test results, which would specify levels and substances tested for, instead only giving highly-generalized summaries;

    3. Not addressing why dioxin sampling will not begin, per the Times-Union, until Monday (dioxins being one of the highly-toxic compounds that PCBs can transform into under high heat);

    4. Reaching sweeping, reassuring conclusions though EPA and DEC testing is ongoing and incomplete;

    5. Reaching such conclusions though officials at DEC have yet to determine what was present and/or stored onsite.


  2. I hope Ed Simonsen and the Environmental Management Council stay on top of this. I'm glad he spoke up.