DEM says no danger with floating foam

Providence residents watched rivers of foam float on the Woonasquatucket River on Monday, a day after firefighters used the substance to fight a stubborn fire at a metal recycling plant in Johnston.

The fire at the Schnitzer Steel plant was reported just after 2 p.m. Sunday and sent thick, gray smoke into the air.

Firefighters were having trouble fighting the flames becausewater wouldn't put them out, and used foam to extinguish the fire.

According to state environmental officials, the foam was washed through drain pipes and out to the streams that run into the Woonasquatucket River. Waterfalls on the river agitated the foam, which DEM officials said is a bit like shampoo, and caused the floating foam.

DEM officials said there may be concern about oxygen levels in the water for a few days, but that the foam was not poisonous.

"I've been over here for the past 15 years, and I've never seen anything like this," said Providence resident Freddy Niebes.

"DEM has the (Materials Safety Data Sheet). They've had water quality people look at it. We're doing testing. Preliminary results look OK," said Colin Kelly of Schnitzer Metals Recycling.

The recycling plant was back in business on Monday.

Metal recycling plant officials said they planned to meet with Johnston residents on Wednesday.