ATTICA, N.Y. (WIVB) - A Call 4 Action tip sparked a News 4 investigation into the unbearable stench in Attica. After our story first aired, the government stepped in.
Now, the smoldering pile of glass and plastic is finally out at Hillcrest Industries. But it took a lot of steps to get there.
Before the call came in to News 4, things were already happening in Attica. The State DEC had already written Hillcrest Industry up for a number of environmental violations. But to many folks, their health seemed to be jeopardy, and things were not happening fast enough.
Just a couple of blocks away from the 40-foot pile of ground up glass and debris, Tammy Foster and her family can breathe fresh air again.
"It's been a little better this afternoon than it has been, but I can still smell it a little bit. It has been hard," Foster said.
But it has been a long hot, putrid summer living close to a mountain of smashed glass, mixed in with rotting garbage.
In response to complaints in the village, Hillcrest officials announced they were going to cover the awful stench with a deodorizer, as some folks called it: industrial strength Febreeze, and that's when the call to Call 4 Action came.
Hillcrest then determined freezing the bacteria in the pile with a nitrogen injection might work, but it didn't.
Last month, the U.S. EPA discovered the most of the stench was emanating from fires smoldering deep inside the mound of shattered glass and announced they would dig up the pile and put the fires out.
Mike Basile of the EPA said, "They'll take the debris, set it aside, make sure the fire is gone and we'll do that until the entire one acre cap has been controlled."
Shortly after the digging began.. more than a dozen students at Attica Middle School went home due to illness and air samples turned up elevated levels of benzene at Hillcrest and in the neighborhood nearby.
A week later, the DEC ordered Hillcrest to shut down their glass furnaces - the source of ash that was falling on the village.
Then on October 11th, strong winds sent a cloud of smelly steam in the direction of the school complex and about 10 students went home sick.
Now we've learned, over the weekend, the fires that have been smoldering for so long have now been put out.
Attica Mayor Bill Lepsch said, "There is repair work that needs to be done on the machinery and the filters, and before they can be started back up. According to what I have been told by DEC, they have to be inspected before they are allowed to re-start their operation."
And Mayor Lepsch said village officials are going to be watching the actions of the EPA, the DEC, and Hillcrest very closely.
"We are going to be involved - the village and the town. We are going to be watching and we are going to have our voices heard, and we hope we can get this thing behind us as soon as possible," he said.
Hillcrest's operation is not shut down permanently. Among the conditions they will have to meet in order to re-start: the proper permits from the DEC to accept solid waste and remove all the non-glass debris before the recycled glass can be burned in the furnaces.
A group of Attica families has filed suit in state court for damages and the DEC has announced they are working toward a consent order with Hillcrest, that could be announced any day.
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