COHOES, N.Y. (NEWS10) — In a new filing in their October lawsuit against Norlite, the New York Attorney General’s office and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation are asking a court to require Norlite to cease harmful emissions, while also engaging an independent engineer to identify facility upgrades to eliminate those harmful emissions.

Advocates like Joe Ritchie, executive director of Saratoga Sites Against Norlite Emissions, say the injunction is just another slap on the wrist of the company. “I don’t know what the rationale is for keeping this facility around,” Ritchie says. “I do know that they need to do what is right. If the commissioner was serious, he would think of it as if his children are living there, would you really let your children be exposed to this?” 

The AG and DEC are asking the NY Supreme Court in Albany County to order Norlite to implement a program to closely monitor crystalline silica and particulate matter emissions from the facility, publicly report the results, and immediately cease operations when emissions approach prescribed health-based thresholds. The motion is also asking the court to order Norlite to use an independent engineer to look for facility upgrades and adjustments to permanently eliminate and stop the harmful emissions.

NYSDEC Region 4 Director Anthony Luisi says the new filing will seek additional oversight and monitoring of Norlite’s operations. “Based on on-going air quality data that we’ve been monitoring and compiling certainly we had enough concern that warranted further legal action.”

In a release, NYSDEC Commissioner Basil Segos says, “the joint legal action taken by DEC and Attorney General James to prevent Norlite’s air pollution was an important step in the state’s commitment to help protect the health of local residents and our environment. While the fight to hold Norlite accountable continues, this new filing seeks to implement additional oversight and monitoring or halt the company’s operations to prevent any additional harmful airborne contaminants from affecting the Cohoes community.”

The state conducted an intensive monitoring program at the facility in 2021 and 2022, which determined that levels of particulate matter and crystalline silica in the air in the community surrounding Norlite exceed levels established to protect against harmful health impacts. The monitoring also confirmed Norlite to be the primary cause of the elevated levels of particulate matter and crystalline silica in the local community’s air. The harmful air pollution has caused concern for residents who live in the Saratoga Sites apartments roughly 100 feet from the facility.

At the same time, Norlite is asking the court to have the suit dismissed. In the company’s motion for dismissal, which was filed Wednesday, it alleges the case uses “numeric criteria that have not been promulgated under New York law and are thus not enforceable, and allegations that are vague and conclusory, or are bare legal conclusions, which are insufficient to support a claim.” 

The state’s suit cites California environmental regulations for particulate matter (PM), which Norlite’s attorney’s in the motion say have no merit in the Empire State. “Enforcing the California criteria would represent a significant change to the emission limits that Norlite is subject to and would effectively circumvent the numerous notice, comment, and publication procedures to which DEC is subject.”

A Norlite spokesperson was able to comment on the situation, “We have been a member of the Cohoes community for over 65 years, and our top priority has always been the health and safety of our dedicated employees and our neighbors. We have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars over the last 18 months to bolster our dust mitigation systems, and we will continue that process. To our knowledge, there is no evidence or report that links our facility to any illness.”

No update has been provided about if or when the suit could go to court.