Toxins found in air-quality tests at lithium-ion battery fire site in Warwick considered within 'normal' range

County, town and village officials said toxins were detected during the three-day blaze at Convergent Power and Energy's site on County Route 1 but wouldn't reveal what those toxins were.

News 12 Staff

Jun 30, 2023, 4:23 PM

Updated 328 days ago

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News 12 learned Friday that dozens of toxins were detected in air quality samples at the site of a lithium-ion battery fire on Warwick school district grounds this week.
The information was shared during a news conference that was attended and broadcast live exclusively by News 12. 
County, town and village officials said toxins were detected during the three-day fire at Convergent Power and Energy's site on County Route 1 but wouldn't reveal what those toxins were.
"There were a multitude," said Jason Brasler with Orange County Fire Services. "But nothing to be alarmed about for the actual incident or for the future at this time."
Authorities said the findings of tests would be shared at the completion of their investigation, and that levels were determined by to be within a safe range by Orange County Hazmat. 
News 12 confirmed that hazmat crews are on the scene of the energy company’s second location on Church Street Friday.
A crane removed one of their containers with multiple megawatt batteries inside after a third incident Thursday tripped fire alarms and resulted in the evacuation of a nearby commercial building with several businesses inside.
“I think the state of New York, which is promoting this, needs to take a step back and say we need to evaluate safety protocols, locations, and all of those issues," said Warwick Town Supervisor Mike Sweeton. 
News 12 also learned Friday that the lithium-ion batteries being used to store energy for Orange and Rockland Utilities are newly designed by the Oregon-based company Powin, according to Convergent, and being used for the first time in Warwick. 
Authorities said an incident during Monday night's storm tripped the fire suppression system at Convergent's site on Church Street.
Fire officials were seen there again on Thursday after another incident tripped fire alarms. Officials said Friday that an incident Tuesday sparked the fire at the company's location on the district campus, near three schools, an athletic field, and the district's school bus garage. Convergent rents the location from the Warwick Valley Central School District. State, county, local and school district testing continues at the fire site. 
News 12 has repeatedly reached out to the Warwick school district for comment about the lithium-ion facility, but calls and emails have not been returned.
A public board meeting on Thursday is expected to address concerns. 
The district shut down buildings and canceled scheduled outdoor activities on campuses Tuesday through Friday, as a result.
Officials said the village held public meetings before approving the clean-energy installation on Church Street. They said it’s believed the school district also held public hearings on the matter before it was approved in conjunction with the New York state Education Department.
News 12 reached out to NYSED for comment Thursday and have not heard back.
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