Read the full article by Emily Burkhard (WNYT.com)
“COHOES – Cohoes Common Council unanimously passed a one-year moratorium on the burning of toxic firefighting foam at the Norlite incineration plant on Tuesday evening.
AFFF, the fire-fighting foam containing PFAS compounds, had been burned at the Norlite incineration plant in 2018 and 2019.
That discovery was made after a Freedom of Information Act request revealed the Cohoes plant was one of four places across the U.S. that entered into contracts with the Department of Defense to incinerate the now-banned foam. A lawsuit has since been filed against the DoD, alleging the agency did not complete the required environmental impact study ahead of executing the contracts.
The moratorium comes on the heels of an exploratory study released by Bennington College on Monday which found “significant levels” of the toxic chemicals in the soil and water around the plant.
‘What we found was concerning,’ Professor David Bond said.
Bond led the study that collected soil and water samples from the neighborhoods surrounding the Norlite incineration plant in Cohoes.
He called the common council’s decision to ban the burning of AFFF at Norlite a good first step.
‘There is no scientific consensus that incineration is an effective way to break down these toxic chemicals,’ Bond said.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation released an updated statement Tuesday:
‘The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) directed Norlite to cease its incineration of firefighting foam (aqueous film forming foam or AFFF) that contains PFAS compounds in 2019. Since then, DEC has continued working with local elected officials, including the Mayor of Cohoes, to assess the potential impacts of Norlite’s past incineration of firefighting foam. DEC is currently reviewing data released yesterday, which ?on preliminary review is consistent with low background levels observed in urban areas and contradicts the report’s conclusion that the incineration process failed to destroy this material.
New York State banned the use of AFFF after determining it posed an environmental and public health threat, and is suing the manufacturers of AFFF to hold them accountable for the damage their products have caused. We will not relent on our rigorous, science-based effort to protect New Yorkers from emerging contaminants like PFAS compounds’…”