Read the full article by Rick Karlin (Times Union)
“COHOES — With state lawmakers unable as yet to take action because of the coronoavirus pandemic, a proposed moratorium on burning toxic PFAS chemicals, such as those that have been incinerated at the Norlite aggregate plant, will be tackled by the Cohoes Common Council next week.
Tuesday’s vote, to be webcast, is the latest chapter in a saga that began last winter when city officials learned the plant had been incinerating unused firefighting foam that contained aqueous film-forming foam with perfluorocarbon, or PFAS chemicals under a federal Department of Defense contract to dispose of the substance.
The incineration was used to fuel one of the kilns at the Norlite plant, which is used in producing aggregate, or mined rock material that goes into roads and construction.
Norlite earlier told the state Department of Environmental Conservation about the incineration but city officials learned of it when environmentalists filed a federal lawsuit seeking to stop the burnings.
Norlite was not under a legal obligation to provide notification of the incineration. Despite that, the burning has raised safety alarms, especially given the growing awareness of PFAS contamination in water supplies around the state.
Known as ‘forever chemicals,’ PFAS, per and polyfluoroalkyl substances, have raised concerns due to their sturdy chemical makeup which means they can persist in a person’s bloodstream for a long time. The substances are associated with illness such as thyroid disorders, cancer and other ailments, mostly in people where the public water supplies have been contaminated.
The Rensselaer County village of Hoosick Falls is rebuilding its municipal water systems after PFAS substances were found in their system, coming from nearby industrial plants. PFAS were used in making Teflon and other non-stick surfaces as well as firefighting foam.
Shortly after learning of the incineration last winter, Cohoes Mayor Bill Keeler reached out to the company and local lawmakers. By then, Norlite had halted the incineration amid upgrades to its kilns but said they wanted to resume burning in June…”