Investigation Follows State Response to Today's Chemical Explosion, Fire in New Windsor, Orange County.
Albany, NY - November 21, 2017 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a multi-agency investigation into working conditions at Verla International, Ltd., a commercial cosmetic company in New Windsor, Orange County. The investigation follows the state's response to the chemical explosion and fire at the warehouse, located at 463 Temple Hill Road and will examine worker safety, conditions and compliance with state environmental regulations at the plant. The Governor has directed the Department of Labor, Department of State and Department of Environmental Conservation to lead this investigation into overall compliance at Verla International, Ltd.
"Ensuring the safety and welfare of New Yorkers in the workplace is critically important, and following today's chemical explosion, I am directing a multi-agency investigation to get to the bottom of what happened and review compliance with state labor and environmental laws," Governor Cuomo said. "Worker safety and environmental protection are top priorities and if there was any misconduct or negligence that led to this incident, we will use the full force of the law to hold the company accountable."
The Department of Environmental Conservation will investigate facility operations, including chemical storage and use practices, to ensure that there are no environmental violations that led to the explosions and fire at the facility. In particular, DEC investigators will inspect the facility to ensure it is in compliance with all applicable state and federal environmental regulations, including hazardous waste management methods of waste collection, storage, and disposal; the existence of emergency preparedness plans, response equipment, and communication devices; and the proper training of facility staff involved in hazardous waste management. DEC has also deployed air monitoring equipment to evaluate conditions in the area and will continue to monitor water quality impacts from the fire.
The Department of State Division of Building Standards and Codes will review code compliance activity at the plant and has offered the Town of New Windsor assistance in assessing the overall condition of the building and providing any technical support in determining if code violations contributed to the cause or the spread of the fire.
The Department of Labor will dispatch worker safety and health experts to the facility to determine if any asbestos is present on-site or a malfunction in any of the plant's three boilers contributed to the incident. Additionally, the Department will coordinate with the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration to interview workers and assist with any OSHA investigation.
Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "DEC takes seriously our responsibility to ensure that all companies are complying with appropriate regulations for chemical and hazardous waste management. Investigators from DEC will leave no stone unturned to figure out what happened and work to ensure that incidents like this do not occur again."
Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said, "Today's fire in New Windsor underscores the importance of rigorous worker health and safety standards. At Governor Cuomo's direction, the Department of Labor's Division of Safety and Health will be dispatching investigators to the site in order to help determine if any negligence on the part of the company played a role in this incident. The Department will also be looking closely into any possible asbestos or boiler issues that may have contributed to the severity of the explosion and subsequent fire."
New York Secretary of State Rossana Rosado said, "The Department of State works tirelessly with code enforcement offices throughout the state to make sure buildings are safe for occupancy by residents and workers. The Department of State Division of Building Standards and Codes will be assisting Town of Windsor officials in determining whether code violations played a part in this tragic incident."