Niagara Gazette

May 14, 2014

Fire shuts down Town of Lockport electronic recycling

BY JOE OLENICK joe.olenick@niagara-gazette.com
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Collection for electronic recycling will stop immediately in the Town of Lockport, following Sunday’s fire that destroyed the shed behind Town Hall that stored the items.

Instead, residents are being encouraged to take their items to Niagara County Redemption Center, 4022 Lake Ave., a private recycling business in Wrights Corners. The center is open from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Sundays.

The town had been collecting electronics in a small 10-by-16 wooden shed located to the south of the hall on Dysinger Road. That was until a fire broke out at just before 5 p.m. Sunday afternoon, destroying the shed and the items stored which were primarily televisions. Rapids Volunteer Fire Co. responded and put the fire out in minutes.

There was an investigation into the cause of the fire, which Councilwoman Patricia Dufour said authorities believed it was triggered by corroded batteries in some discarded piece of electronics.

Dufour said Rapids firefighters saw a number of boxes with batteries in a corner of the shed. The belief is the batteries had gotten wet, corroded, then caught fire as the temperature rose Sunday.

One of the challenges of the recycling shed was that the town didn’t have the manpower to assign someone to monitor it. Often, the shed would fill up with electronics, so some items were left just outside of the structure.

That, as well as the lack of a fire accelerant, the time and proximity to a State Police barracks on Dysinger, suggests arson wasn’t a cause, Dufour said.

The items were left by residents to be recycled and the town no longer receives money for recycling, so the town isn’t affected financially, other than the shed itself, Supervisor Marc R. Smith said on Sunday.

The town used the shed as a drop-off center for residents who wanted to recycle electronics, since state law now prohibits their disposal at curbside.

In October, the town terminated its contract with Regional Computer Recycling and Recovery after that company announced it would no longer take tube televisions. The town hired Sunnking of Brockport, which agreed to pick up the TVs but declined to pay the town for them. Regional Computer Recycling and Recovery had been paying the town 8.6 cents per pound of waste.

The fire took place less than three weeks after town officials discussed using it for a different purpose. At a meeting last month, Town Board members talked about replacing the electronics recycling shed with a 30-by-60-foot storage building that vehicles could drive inside. That new structure would cost about $45,000 and board members decided to seek bids for it.

The smaller shed was going to be used for something else, Smith said. There was talk of moving the 10-by-16-foot shed to Day Road Park for storage.

Now, the need for the larger building isn’t as great, Dufour said.

”Obviously, the urgency for it has diminished,” she said. “But I’m hoping the board can discuss it at the next meeting on May 21.”

A phone call to Niagara County Redemption Center was not returned Tuesday. People with any questions regarding their service, or the types of items the center accepts, can reach the center at 438-7117.

Contact reporter Joe Olenick at 439-9222, ext. 6241 or follow him on Twitter @joeolenick.