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Activists urge Cuomo to sign AFFF burn ban

Oct 29, 2020 5:45 am
Susan Arbetter is reporting for State of Politics a group of environmental activists October 28, sent Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo a letter urging him to sign into law a bill passed in June that would permanently prohibit the burning of toxic firefighting foam, or AFFF. The foam contains the same PFAS chemicals found in Hoosick Falls. The measure was limited to "certain cities," in particular Cohoes, Albany County, where the company Norlite has been burning the material. Joe Ritchie, a junior at Syracuse University and executive director of Saratoga Sites Against Norlite Emissions, is a lifelong resident of Saratoga Sites, the public housing complex next door to Norlite. "It’s literally a stone’s throw away," Ritchie said of his home relative to the Norlite facility. "Sometimes when we get the mail, we have to hold our breath because of just how pungent the smell is from Norlite." Ritchie is one of the signatories on the letter. Sean Mahar, chief of staff at the state Department of Environmental Conservation, said the agency takes oversight of all facilities that require permits very seriously. Mahar also said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos wants staff to consider Norlite’s permit renewal applications as new applications, "so they are not the same, typical, streamlined renewal processes that some facilities go through." Ritchie says trust in the DEC among Saratoga Sites’ residents is pretty low. "[The] DEC allowed Norlite to illegally burn AFFF for two years, even though a DEC monitor was on-site," Richie said. "Generally, we are still looking into why our monitor didn’t do something sooner, but as soon as we did find out about it, that’s when we jumped into action," Mahar said. One action the DEC took was to tell Norlite to stop processing firefighting foam. Last week, state officials announced detailed plans to test the soil and water around the plant. Read more at nystateofpolitics [dot] com.