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Scrapyard Fire In Waterbury Causes Pollution Runoff Into Naugatuck River

Courtesy: DEEP
Workers for the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection place a boom in the Naugatuck River to contain runoff from a fire at a nearby scrapyard.

Crews worked Thursday to contain a fire at a scrapyard in Waterbury, which environmental officials said impacted the Naugatuck River.

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) said state and local officials, along with the Connecticut National Guard Civil Support Team, responded to a scrapyard fire at 225 East Aurora St. in Waterbury.

“The cause of the fire is petroleum-based, and petroleum has impacted the Naugatuck River,” DEEP officials said in a written statement. 

That petroleum came from plastics that caught fire among the burning metal and “any incidental runoff from the property,” according to Will Healey, a spokesperson for the agency.

“Booms are being deployed by DEEP personnel to contain runoff,” according to the agency statement. “We are directing the property owner to hire a contractor to run samples of the impacted water for volatile organic compounds, semi-volatile organic compounds, and metals.”

Jeff Chandler, supervisor of the DEEP’s emergency response unit, said sampling is ongoing for a variety of possible contaminants, but the extent of any possible water pollution was not immediately clear. 

Chandler said the spill would have no impact on drinking water supplies.

“Not at all. The city of Waterbury receives water out of the municipal water system, which is not at all associated with the Naugatuck River,” Chandler said.

According to state records, the name on the address is Albert Bros. Inc., a scrap metal recycling business. Eric Albert, president of Albert Bros., said Thursday that what caused the fire was not immediately clear.

“We’ll get to the bottom and figure out what happened, which we don’t know,” Albert said. “Our job is now to figure out what happened and solve the problem so we don’t ever have that problem again.” 

The company also addressed the fire on its Facebook page.

“A small fire broke out in one of our metal recycling piles this morning,” the statement reads. “At this time, the fire is contained, everyone is safe, and we are forever grateful for having the employee training and community support of Waterbury’s finest.”

Patrick Skahill is a reporter and digital editor at Connecticut Public. Prior to becoming a reporter, he was the founding producer of Connecticut Public Radio's The Colin McEnroe Show, which began in 2009. Patrick's reporting has appeared on NPR's Morning Edition, Here & Now, and All Things Considered. He has also reported for the Marketplace Morning Report. He can be reached by phone at 860-275-7297 or by email: pskahill@ctpublic.org.

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