Photographs By John Murray
Waterbury Mayor Neil O’Leary addressed the media during a site walk at the former Nova Dye & Print factory that burned Saturday at 313 Mill Street. The factory sits on the edge of the Mad River, which flows directly into the Naugatuck River. Standing next to O’Leary is United States Senator Richard Blumenthal who is looking into ways the Federal Government can assist in the massive clean-up of the contaminated brownfield site. Also attending the tour was Dan Esty, the commissioner for the Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection, whose immediate concern was how the fire affected the Mad River and the Naugatuck River.
An aerial view of the factory from a bucket at the end of a ladder truck revealed a two block swath of destruction. The state has pledged to use the remainder of its environmental emergency fund to help Waterbury clean up the mess.
Fire departments from Waterbury, Watertown, Wolcott, Naugatuck, Middlebury and Cheshire dumped thousands of gallons of water per minute, for 15 consecutive hours, in an attempt to douse the inferno. Four days later portions of the building are still smoldering.
The devastated factory sits on the western edge of the Mad River, and thousands of gallons of water carrying asbestos, PCBs, oil and other contaminants flowed into the watershed on Saturday and Sunday. Portions of the site had been cleaned of acids and asbestos by the Federal EPA several years ago, but plenty of toxins remained. Four thousand gallons of oil was removed from the site yesterday by an environmental contractor.
Waterbury Fire Chief David Martin, right, and Waterbury Mayor Neil O’Leary, listened intently as DEEP Commissioner Daniel Esty explained the state’s environmental priorities concerning the massive fire.
Waterbury Fire Chief Dave Martin, wearing a yellow jacket, led officials around the back of the factory to inspect the damage, and to walk the edge of the Mad River.
DEEP Commissioner Dan Esty, right, and U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, left, were awed by their trip 80 feet up a ladder truck to peer down on the devastation.
The mostly serious tour did have a few light moments, including when Blumenthal, Esty and O’Leary tried on their official fire fighting boots.