DEC further limits firefighting foam burns at Norlite

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COHOES, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos announced new actions on Thursday that would add limits on burning firefighting foam at the Norlite facility in Cohoes.

The DEC says it will consider any future permit applications from Norlite as new, instead of a renewal. Applying for a new permit would require expanded review, environmental justice outreach, and local community feedback.

Thursday’s letter reiterates that Norlite cannot “process”—incinerate— firefighting foam, known as aqueous film-forming foam or AFFF, unless new tests show that burning at high-temperatures is a safe and effective way to dispose of it. The DEC also warned Norlite against burning anything left out of permit applications, including “emerging contaminants.” Going forward, to burn any substances that have not been addressed, they’ll have to get their permits modified beforehand.

In Cohoes, they’re holding a virtual town hall at 6:30 p.m. on Monday via Zoom to discuss developments at Norlite. The DEC says that contracts between Norlite and the Defense Department to burn the potentially toxic materials have been terminated. New York is also developing a sampling program in Cohoes to figure out if burning PFAS-containing materials at Norlite contaminated surface soil and surface water.

A statement from Cohoes Mayor Bill Keeler in response to the DEC’s reads, in part:

“We have been asking for help to determine whether burning these PFAS so-called ‘forever chemicals’ for two years in an urban area may have affected people’s health and the environment… We continue to urge Governor Cuomo to sign the Breslin/McDonald bill.”

Bill Keeler
Mayor of Cohoes

The Breslin/McDonald bill unanimously passed both houses of the state legislature on June 10. It prohibits incinerating firefighting foam in Cohoes.

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