HURLEY, N.Y. – Officials have until Aug. 11 to fix a methane exposure at the town Highway Department garage.
The state Public Employee Safety and Health deadline notice was discussed at a Town Board meeting Monday, with Supervisor John Perry saying the agency found that the seeping gas represented both a health concern and explosive hazard. The methane exposure at the garage is coming from the adjacent closed town landfill.
“The violations are … equipment and hazard classified locations was not approved for the ignitable or combustible properties,” he said.
“Hurley town Highway Department equipment such as…electrical wiring and our welder were not approved for the explosive atmosphere in the mechanic’s shop of the garage,” Perry said. “A natural methane level of approximately 45 percent (of explosive levels) in the air close to the floor drain.”
A town consultant last fall found the methane level at 4,000 parts per million, which is 65 percent of the flammable limit, in some parts of the highway garage. In ann earlier state Department of Environmental Conservation report, investigators found the level to be at 37 percent of the limit.
The town landfill has been closed since the mid-1990s with the town highway garage partially over the closed former dump.
State officials have directed the town to take immediate steps to mitigate the problem until a long-term remedy is put in place.
“Interim proactive measures need to be implemented during the abatement period such as … excluding any spark-producing potential ignition sources (from) vehicles and equipment,” officials wrote.
Perry said the notice included sealing the floor drain in the mechanic’s shop.
Councilman Peter Humphries suggested that the town install a methane trap that would catch the gas and vent it away from the highway garage.
“We could literally jackhammer some of that ground out below the level of where the (garage drain) goes out,” he said. “A trap will hold water…that won’t let that gas come out that’s causing the 45 percent.”
Perry suggested permanently sealing the vent with concrete was a less risky approach to resolving the issue.
“The only reason why I had a problem with the jackhammering is one spark and you blow it up,” he said.
Board members did not reach a decision on what steps to take in resolving the violations.
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