Chemical company says both incidents were minor, quickly handled

| 21 Feb 2012 | 10:56

    HARRIMAN-The Nepera Division of Rutherford Chemicals LLC, located on Route 17 in the village of Harriman, has a long standing communications arrangement to release a notification of plant emergencies to surrounding municipalities, the State Police, the Monroe-Woodbury School District, the N.Y.S. Thruway Authority, Woodbury Common, local utility companies and businesses. The emergency communications process, which has been in place since the 1980s, is known as the Community Alert Network or CAN and is designed to activate recorded telephone messages providing information in the event of a release or emergency at the facility. At the Jan. 25 Harriman Village Board meeting, Iris Sandow, Nepera's community relations representative, provided the board with a report on two recent plant events: A localized chemical leak which occurred on Jan. 4 and an incinerator fire which was immediately suppressed on Jan. 8. According to the board, both incidents were not reported in a timely manner. Sandow stated that because both incidents were considered minor and quickly resolved, the notifications followed the corrective action rather than immediately being. That caused Harriman Mayor Stephen H. Welle concern, particularly Nepera's delay in not immediately reporting the Jan. 8 fire to the fire department. "I'm not upset with the lack of the CAN notification," Welle said. "I'm concerned that the fire department and 911 were not immediately called. Whenever a fire occurs, even if minor, the fire department must be called immediately The mayor added that he has conveyed his concerns to Charles Decker, Nepera's environmental safety and health coordinator. Village Fire Chief William Geiler said he learned about the Jan. 8 fire from a 911 dispatcher. The notification originated from a CAN alert about 45 and 60 minutes following the incident. "In the past," Geiler said, "they always called immediately, except for the past two or three years they have become lax."