“It’s makin me sick, it stinks. That’s toxic… they shouldn’t be there or we shouldn’t be here.”
A plume of black smoke could be seen from 787 after a fire broke out at the Norlite hazardous waste incinerator in Cohoes on Monday. Hours after the fire had been contained, a heavy, noxious chemical smell, described as something like a dry-erase marker or paint, lingered in the air at Saratoga Sites. Saratoga Sites is a public housing facility located directly next to Norlite. HMM’s Alexis Goldsmith took this comment from Jennifer Malinowski, a resident. Joe Ritchie, president of Saratoga Sites Against Norlite Emissions, and Dave Publow were there as well.
WAMC spoke with Fire Chief Joseph Fahd and reported the fire was started when a pipe with low-grade fuel oil broke. The fuel then caught ablaze when it spread to hot rocks. This is the second fire at Norlite in under a year, since another fire occurred in February of 2020.
Low-grade fuel can contain any number of different types of hazardous waste. It is unclear was burned in the fire.
Cohoes Mayor Bill Keeler arrived at Saratoga Sites to witness the smell. The Mayor’s office is in close communication with the DEC and Norlite, and will have more information on the spill and resulting fire in the coming days.
Norlite’s state permits expired December 31, 2020. DEC allows them to continue operating with expired permits through administrative extension while the facility undergoes the permit renewal process.