COHOES, N.Y. (NEWS10) — On Monday, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) held a public hearing concerning Norlite and its waste handling. And it was a divided hearing between those who support Norlite and those concerned about the environment. Anthony Luisi, Regional Director for DEC, said the update will bring the company’s permit up to date with changing regulations on a state level.
“Specifically, a couple of years ago, and before, there were certain provisions under the regulations that allowed them to use the residues of hazardous waste under our regulations without any additional requirements.”
Many residents support the additional requirements as long as the hazardous waste is not mixed into industrial products like cement for reuse.
One resident asked, “If the toxic material is made into building products or installed and then demolished for removal, how many people will be exposed to the toxic dust?”
Norlite supporters shared that no one has been sick from working at the plant for years or even decades. Gary Lopez, a mechanic/loader operator at Norlite, made it clear that the company most certainly follows department regulations.
“We already showed them everything,” Lopez said. “We’ve been working on anything they ask. We just follow the rules just like the DEC asks us.”
There is worry amongst union leaders like Stanley Koniszewski from Teamster Local 294 about the plant possibly having to close or eliminate jobs due to lawsuits or further regulations.
“I got guys right now who have been working in that plant. Someone got laid off because of all this going on right now,” he said. “But you wanna know what? It’s almost Christmas time. These guys want the same paycheck their father got 50 years ago.”
Christopher Briggs, Cohoes Councilmember for the 3rd Ward, hopes for a compromise.
“I’m sure that somewhere along the lines, we could make some adjustments and not use that dust and still stay in business,” he said. “So these hyperboles about how everyone is going to lose their job and so forth and so on- I’m sure something can be worked out.”
DEC officials say the hearing has nothing to do with the pending litigations with Norlite and that it will take several weeks before a decision is made about scheduling another public hearing.