HEAT ALERT

Extreme heat continues, scattered strong storms possible this afternoon and evening

Hydrogen cyanide and carbon monoxide possibly among toxins found at Warwick battery site

Orange County officials say toxins like hydrogen cyanide and carbon monoxide may have been among dozens of chemicals people nearby were breathing during the dayslong fire that started June 28.

Blaise Gomez

Jul 7, 2023, 9:14 PM

Updated 351 days ago

Share:

News 12 is learning about alarming new details about a lithium-ion battery fire feet away from schools in Warwick. 
Orange County officials say toxins like hydrogen cyanide and carbon monoxide may have been among dozens of chemicals people nearby were breathing during the dayslong fire that started June 28. As reported, authorities say toxins were detected at the site but that levels were considered safe. 
Residents nearby said the bitter fumes were smelled for miles. 
“The smoke was right in our houses,” said Dawn Damico. “Our houses weren’t tested. Our grounds weren’t tested. My vegetable garden and blueberry bushes – none of that was tested.” 
MORE: Warwick Valley superintendent demands changes following lithium-ion battery fire
News 12 found several trees that looked brittle and brown near the perimeter of the battery fire on County Route 1. 
“When they do burn, there’s literally toxic gases being emitted from batteries,” said lithium-ion battery researcher James Delay. 
The fire at Convergent Power and Energy’s site on County Route 1 and back-to-back problems at a second plant nearby caught the attention of Delay - a Washington-based researcher who runs a Facebook group dedicated to concerns about similar green-energy facilities near schools. 
“A lot of people are battling these. It’s needed but they are just shoving these in,” said Delay. 
Warwick is now on a growing list of communities worldwide who’ve had fires at the newly designed power storage plants meant to help the environment that instead ended in disaster. 
One lithium-ion facility fire in Arizona injured four career firefighters in 2019 after an explosion. Another fire in South-Korea, a key global supplier of EV and backup power systems, killed one person and injured three others in 2022. 
School officials held a meeting Thursday night for the first time since problems began. 
They said Convergent is leasing the property from them in a multimillion-dollar, multiyear contract that was publicly vetted during the pandemic. 
The district hinted at second thoughts and said it asked the company to swap out the new Centipede battery design that’s never been used before now.  
In the meantime, the district says school grounds have been tested for toxic chemicals and are safe. Warwick’s school engineer said moisture may have gotten into battery containers and caused the fire. 
Town officials, however, say the investigation hasn’t started and that authorities are still in the planning stages.  


More from News 12