Lawmakers eye limit on industrial discharge
The Rensselaer County Legislature is eyeing a measure that would limit an industrial discharge that contaminated a superfund site in Nassau.
Lawmakers introduced a local law Tuesday to limit the discharge of 1.4-dioxane, a carcinogen, which was present in the groundwater at the Dewey Loeffel Landfill. The levels of dioxane were more than nine times the level county officials want to limit. The water is discharged into the Valatie Kill, which flows through Rensselaer and Columbia counties.
Legislators said the local action was needed because the state and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency hasn’t limited the discharge of this particular contaminant.
Once passed, the EPA will be forced to test the contaminated water being discharged on a weekly basis to ensure the contaminant is found to be at or lower than the acceptable standards and report those findings to the Rensselaer County Department of Health.
“This is a serious public health issue, and it is time for the federal government to treat it as one,” said Legislature Vice Chairman Alex Shannon, whose district includes parts of Nassau.
Two other legislators who represent parts of Nassau applauded the decision. Legislator Bob Loveridge said the action is a “major step forward in dealing with the damage this federal Superfund site has done to our community.”
Legislator Judy Breselor called the EPA’s inaction on limiting the contaminant “unacceptable” and “has forced us to act on behalf of the residents of Rensselaer County.”
County Executive Kathy Jimino will host a public hearing on the matter after the legislature’s regular November meeting. She said the county had no choice but to take action on its own.
“While I feel strongly that issues such as this should be addressed at the state and federal level, their inaction up to this point demands that we take action at the local level,” Jimino said.
Nassau Town Supervisor David Fleming, who has been fighting this issue for a long time, said that he is thrilled that the legislature is introducing this new local law.
“This proposed law is not just a vital piece of legislation to protect the residents of Nassau and southern Rensselaer County; it will have a dramatic impact on the Hudson River Watershed and New York state policy,” Fleming said. “I commend Legislators Loveridge, Shannon and Breselor for fighting for the protection of our residents by advancing legislation to prevent contamination of Rensselaer County waterways. Clean water is a right and should not be a privilege.”