TURIN — Rubble from the recent Brick Block fire is attracting souvenir seekers and brick grabbers interested in making use of the materials still on the corner site.
Potential contaminants, however, pose a risk to those taking the bricks regardless of reason, causing the county to seek help from the Environmental Protection Agency to construct a site until further action can be planned to clean up the property.
Although part of the buildings were already in a state of disrepair and collapse, the historic Brick Block was destroyed in a massive blaze on April 1 that left only the brick faces of the buildings standing which heavy equipment was used to topple for safety purposes and to ensure the fire was completely out.
Lewis County Attorney Joan McNichol reported to legislators in the General Services Committee meeting on Tuesday that she had attempted to contact the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the federal EPA for potential financial assistant with the cleanup of the fire site at the corner of State Route 26 and East Main Street in the center of the village.
She said her conversation with DEC representatives “made it clear no funds are available” but that they would be willing to provide oversight assistance for the cleanup.
An attorney that specializes in environmental issues and has worked with county on other situations has been asked to engage the DEC in order to get the EPA to “take another look it.”
“They looked at (the former Brick Block buildings) a number of years ago and didn’t want to get involved,” said Mrs. McNichol.
As a result, the EPA has agreed to “give a general assessment.”
“We’re asking them to at least fence the building remains because people are going onto the site to take bricks that could be contaminated. We are asking them to at least do that and looking at the possibility of working with the village and town to decide on a certified entity to remove the bricks and the cost.”
Mrs. McNichol said she is hopeful that more information will be available within the next few weeks and that she believes the cost of the cleanup is likely to be “steep.”
“We’re trying to push people to do some things,” she said.