State Set To Give Permit To Fairfield Car Shredder

Air Bag Chemical Worries Residents

August 20, 1991|By John A. Morris | John A. Morris,Staff writer

The state is poised to give an air-pollution control permit to a Fairfield firm that wants to run a car shredder.

Officials with the state Air Management Administration will meet with North County, Brooklyn and Curtis Bay residents tonight to explain the permit.

Brooklyn Salvage Co., in the 1600 block of Carbon Avenue, recycles scrap metal from cars and white good, such as refrigerators, dishwashers and dryers. Michael Sullivan, a spokesman for the Air Management Administration, said the operation is expanding to include a shredding machine.

The shredding operation needs a permit because it could send particulates, such as metal shavings, into the air, Sullivan said. Particulate emissions are regulated.

"It's not a project that has a great deal of air impacts," Sullivan said. "In fact, the permit has already been signed."

The 7 p.m. meeting in the Curtis Bay Recreation Center at Curtis Avenue and Filbert Street is informational only, Sullivan said.

Residents who requested the meeting said they are worried about the potential for explosion and toxic releases as automobiles are shredded. In particular, residents are concerned about auto air bags.

Last Friday, The Sun reported that air bag firing devices, when shredded, can explode or, worse, contaminate the airwith the toxic chemical hidden deep inside the steering column. Eachair bag firing device contains more than an ounce of the explosive, sodium azide, according to air bag manufacturer Morton International Inc.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration warns that it is lethal to swallow as little as seven drops of the substance. Breathing or touching the chemical can also be fatal, but at higher levels, the safety agency says.

Drivers aren't endangered by the chemical because the sodium azide is encased in an aluminum or steel canister. If set off by a crash, sodium azide burns into harmless nitrogen that is cooled and filtered and then goes into the cushion that protects the driver's head.

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