JAMESTOWN, NY (WNY News Now) — A push to help cleanup debris left behind following a massive fire at a former factory in Jamestown is underway, with the federal government lending a hand.
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer visited Jamestown on Wednesday, saying the community has waited long enough as he pushes for federal funding to remove possibly hazardous debris following the Crawford Furniture Factory fire, which happened eight weeks ago.
Estimated to be a multi million dollar clean up project, the U.S Senator, in tandem with many local lawmakers, discussed a superfund cleanup action spurred by the EPA because remains of the structure is a big concern to public health.
“They look at how dangerous it is, here it is quite dangerous, with the chemicals, the hazardous chemicals,” explained Senator Schumer. “They declare it a dangerous site, and then they come in and clean it up. And they are in the process of doing the first step right now. I just want to push them to get it done quickly, and then get the money here ASAP.”
The location was deemed structurally unsafe and on verge of a “catastrophic collapse” last year by Jamestown’s Department of Development. The superfund tax will help speed up the cleanup process.
“We’ve reinstated the superfund tax, so once the EPA pays for it, they can go after the people who own the property, the people who were negligent and let the fire occur, and recoup the money, and they can sue them,“ stated Schumer. “That law had expired, we got it put back in place.”
In addition to cleanup efforts, the owner will also be held accountable.
“These programs will really help give municipalities like ours much needed resources that we just don’t have,“ explained Jamestown Director of Development Crystal Surdyk. “To be able to protect sites like this, to remediate sites like this, and to go after these negligent property owners, which is our next task. That’s something that we’ve been working on already. It is ultimately our goal to make sure that we hold the property owners accountable and liable for their willful neglect.”
It’s still unknown who, or what, sparked flames at the Crawford Furniture Factory site on Allen Street, however, investigators believe the fire originated on the first floor of the building.