Norlite Lightweight Aggregate Plant invited the community to tour its grounds Wednesday. As YNN's Karen Tararache reports, the invitation comes after a chemical leak caused confusion and fear in the city of Cohoes.
COHOES, N. Y. -- Cohoes Mayor, George Primeau said, "It was kind of one of those situations where we didn't know what was going on."
On the evening of July 31st Cohoes residents began to smell an odor in the air. Unclear of what or where it was coming from, concern set in.
"It was probably one of the scariest things I've ever been involved in. Not being able to know what to tell the public," Primeau added.
It was later discovered that a vapor leak of methyl methacryllate from the Norlite plant caused the nail-polish remover like stench. The chemical did not pose a health threat but did leave some feeling uneasy about the facility's communication that night.
Primeau explained, "The bottom line is we want to be notified immediately, we want to know exactly we want to know what kind of odor it was, is it toxic or not."
In an effort to be more accessible, the plant on Saratoga Avenue let about 40 people inside Wednesday.
The Norlite Lightweight Aggregate Plant Manager, Mark Coombs said, "This is an opportunity for us to meet with the community and allow folks an opportunity to see what we do. Open the doors for them."
Mayor Primeau added, "I'm hoping people actually see what the facility is all about and if there are any questions that they have, be answered and again to see that this facility is state of the art."
Since the 1950's the plant has been producing a shale or a ceramic material called Norlite. With hard hats, goggles and ear plugs on hand, the public was taken on a structured tour.
"We have four sites, we're going to take them to our analytical lab to our quarry, our kiln operation and to our fuel farm," Coombs explained.
And while our cameras weren't allowed inside the plant for security reasons, Norlite encourages residents, community members and business owners to contact Mayor Primeau's office for the next open house.