Attorney general and Cohoes’ Norlite plant reach agreement on dust

COHOES — Attorney General Letitia James and the Norlite aggregate plant on Wednesday reached an agreement regarding the state’s injunction that will prompt extensive dust control measures and monitoring.

The plant still might have to suspend operations if dust levels get too high, however. And a related lawsuit filed by the attorney general and state Department of Environmental Conservation against Norlite continues.

Norlite will install extensive on-site air quality monitoring systems and hire engineers who can offer the best long-term solutions to dust emissions.

The company must also make a series of reports to the state Department of Environmental Conservation on the dust control measures, with special reports when they exceed certain thresholds, according to James’ office. Certain operations at the plant could be suspended if certain dust levels are exceeded.

The company also agreed to start working on its dust control measures within 90 days.

“This order will govern the monitoring and operation of Norlite throughout the course of the litigation,” the attorney general‘s office said. The court order was approved by the state Supreme Court in Albany County Acting Justice Kimberly O’Connor.

“We are pleased to have reached this agreement on the specifics of an emissions program with the New York state attorney general. We are especially pleased that this program has been developed in conjunction with the DEC. This agreement marks a new chapter for Norlite,” company CEO Ghia Rossi said.

“I am now working with a team of experts on additional steps that can and will be implemented to make sure the Cohoes facility is the gold standard for manufacturing and for community involvement.”

One of the key components will be a $250,000 water monitoring system. Monitoring will be ongoing and recorded in real time. The agreement also calls for creating a system to control dust particles of 10 microns or smaller. For context, human hair is about 70 microns in diameter and the eye can detect something as small as 25 microns.

The provisions Norlite agreed to were sought by the AG’s office in its injunction which was related to their lawsuit over dust emissions. “These new measures directed by the Court will remain in effect during the State’s ongoing litigation against the facility,” the Department of Environmental Conservation said of the agreement.

907689 22 People of the State of v People of the State of ORDER OTHER 71 Signed PI by Karlin Rick on Scribd

The lawsuit was brought by James and the DEC in October after years of complaints by neighbors, particularly those living in the adjacent Saratoga Sites public housing complex, about irritating and potentially harmful silica dust coming from the plant.

Norlite mines shale rock on site and processes it into aggregate construction and road building materials. The rock is heated in a pair of large, high-temperature kilns that burn hazardous waste such as used solvents, paints and other chemicals that the company collects from industrial plants for a fee.

The company made headlines three years ago with revelations that the kilns had, among other materials, been burning per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFOS and PFAS.

Incineration of those materials, including some that had come from discarded firefighting foam, was legal but there were growing concerns about their toxicity. Burning of PFOS and PFAS at the plant has since been banned under state law.

Amid worries about the chemicals, residents of Saratoga Sites said they had long complained about dust from the plant.

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