Bad air a problem in the South End

The editorial “Question and answer time,” Sept. 4, regarding a late August state Senate public hearing on PFOA contamination in Rensselaer County said the central issue is “why a village of 3,500 people was drinking contaminated water for more than a year after officials first knew of the problem” and asked “what could have been done differently, and how might that understanding affect what’s done now?”

The same reasoning applies to the South End of Albany, where residents have been inhaling polluted air from a wide variety of sources for many years after government knew of the problem.

At a May 7, 2003, state Department of Environmental Conservation hearing on a proposed but never built asphalt manufacturing factory for South Pearl Street, a Giffen Elementary School nurse spoke strongly against the proposal.

She said the air in the school often smelled of exhaust and chemicals; that she had to completely wipe down all the tables and the computer in her health clinic every three or four days because there was a fine layer covering these objects; that 78 students (13 percent) had asthma; that “we all know that the exhaust, the chemicals, and particles in the air are bad for your health;” and that air pollution triggers asthma attacks.

Did DEC forward her information to the state or county health departments or the federal government, and, if not, why not?

Has DEC or the state health department done any follow-up work? Did DEC consider her testimony when it quietly approved Global Partners first oil train application four years ago?

Tom Ellis


Published in November/December 2016
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