COHOES, N.Y. (NEWS10) — A new Department of Environmental Conservation report says there are no health risks for residents linked to Norlite’s facility in Cohoes. Residents like Timothy Donovan don’t believe the findings and are stuck living next door to the facility.
“I can’t afford to live anywhere else, you know. You’ve got to live somewhere,” Donovan said.
In a statement, Norlite tells NEWS10 in part: “These findings confirm that our state-of-the-art technology is protective of our community and the environment, and we hope these conclusions are reassuring to our neighbors,” said CEO of Tradebe USA Jeff Beswick.
With newly installed air monitors and layers of dust that fall onto cars, concerns remain. “This is an important step in a long process to get folks the answers to the questions they’ve been asking,” said Cohoes Mayor Bill Keeler.
Keeler said that despite the facility being in compliance, he’s looking into enlisting the help of lawmakers to increase regulations. “Norlite is in compliance. The DEC doesn’t have any authority on their own to, you know, find them guilty of something they’re not guilty of,” he said.
Until then, residents at the neighboring Saratoga Sites say something needs to be done. “Close the plant. Close the plant,” said Donovan.
In a written statement accompanying the release of the DEC report, Commissioner Basil Seggos said their work is not done: “Make no mistake, our job is not done and DEC will continue to hold this facility accountable for the impact of its operations on the surrounding area while we engage local residents in our decision-making every step of the way.”
On Wednesday, Seggos sent the following statement to NEWS10:
DEC worked very closely with the Cohoes community and local leaders to design a comprehensive study on PFAS to answer a very simple question: Was any of the PFAS that had been burned at the Norlite facility deposited into the community, into the soil or into the water?
The answer, after several months of very hard work in the field with our teams, was that we did not find any clear link of PFAS that is connected to Norlite’s operations. And similarly, we found no indication of any health risk.
Now, this should put the community at ease and give them peace of mind. It’s a large study. It’s on our website. It’s over 400 pages. We encourage the public to dig into it, to read it. We put all the data in there, all the science, all the assumptions. And we want this, ultimately, to be something that the community can have faith in.
This was rigorous science. This is how we approach these investigations. And we approach these investigations with an open mind. I think, at this point, we can say with a degree of certainty that Norlite did not pose a risk to public health as a result of the burning of AFFF firefighting foam.
Now, I want to be very clear about something. Rest assured, we are going to remain ubiquitous in the community until these issues are resolved. There are other issues at the facility that we’re working on right now. There are dust issues that are subject to enforcement, and we have a new approach to enforcement at the facility. You’ll see a lot more work in the coming months on these points.
But the short answer is good news in the short term on this issue of PFAS.