Lackawanna residents awaiting air quality results

LACKAWANNA, N.Y. (WIVB) — Each time demo crews move molten steel, smoke  billows from the Bethlehem steel building.

“The smell is horrendous,” said Scott, a man who grew up in the Bethlehem Park neighborhood.

“The smell is like a burnt plastic,” said Tim, a man who lives three homes away from the plant. “There are a lot of chunks of big, black debris that are on lawn.”

Tim lives right near the plant.

“It might just be soot but we don’t know that,” said Tim. “There’s been a lot of chemicals in that building for a lot of years.”

Tim isn’t the only one who wants to know what’s in the building. An investigation is underway now– arson investigators trying to determine if this fire could have been started deliberately.

The City of Lackawanna mayor is also imploring more information comes out soon.

“Some of the firefighters I’ve been speaking with say they have burning throats and headaches – and I’m not a firefighter and have that too,” said Mayor Geoffrey Szymanski. “Anyone who was near and the resident are complaining about the same thing. Smoke problems.”

The EPA meter readings are showing zero particulates are in the air now. The agency is supposed to be releasing a more detailed report early this week. Something many people are waiting for.

“The faster we get the EPA results, the faster we can figure out what exactly it was in the fire,” said the mayor.

Szymanski says the city is looking into buying their own air monitoring devices to track the quality after the EPA and DEC leave.

Assemblyman Michael Kearns is pushing for open public meetings, where residents can ask DEC spokespeople questions about the air quality results in the coming weeks.

“I think when we talk about this we need to talk holistically, and all the environmental concerns beyond air monitoring. I think we need a complete picture of how this fire has impacted the health and wellness of the community surrounding the site,” Kearns told News 4.

DEC results are expected early this week.

The mayor tells us this fire and the hot spots could continue to burn for up to two weeks. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

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