by Orangetown Supervisor Chris Day
We await the results from on-site odor and chemical testing conducted at Aluf on March 19th by TRC Solutions, the chemical testing firm contracted by the town under the recommendation of Clean Air for Orangetown, with a final report expected no later than the end of this month. In the meantime, we have received the results from Phase II of their ambient air chemical testing, conducted throughout that section of town in order to test for potential elevated levels of certain chemicals and address gaps in information and potentially concerning results regarding Acrolein from Phase I.
This report was further reviewed by the volunteer and employee experts in our newly established Air Quality Review Committee. The good news that comes from this testing is that first, the initially high short-term Acrolein results were in fact due to issues with the canisters that were used, and the results as analyzed by both TRC and our Air Quality Review Committee “indicate the air has minimal to no risk for residents, with all levels of all chemicals falling below the Short Term Guideline Concentrations (SGC’s), and most falling below the Annual Guideline Concentrations (AGC’s).”
Though, happily, these results indicate that residents do not have anything to fear in terms of health effects from the situation, they importantly do not address the concerns about odor on a nuisance level. That question will be addressed by the aforementioned on-site testing, and if it determines that Aluf is responsible for the odors and that it would be expected to be at a nuisance level in the surrounding neighborhood we will be able to act in terms of issuing violations under our nuisance law. Further, and perhaps more importantly, this testing will prove whether there are rogue odors escaping from the 20 untreated ventilation points we have identified, and whether the actual exhaust stacks are producing odor. If it proves as such, it will support our case to force Aluf to re-engineer their odor control unit at their own cost, which was brought before the ZBA this past month.
Additionally, we are taking further action to ensure that our residents are safe on a long-term basis along the more industrial Route 303 corridor where Aluf is located, and to that end have requested that New York State install fixed air monitor stations in the area. A system such as this will provide more data and allow for better analysis regarding the AGC’s, to ensure that what is now “minimal to no risk” for residents can be confirmed as “zero risk.” It is also important to note that the whole lower Hudson Valley just received very poor grades for air quality, with Westchester receiving an “F” and Rockland receiving a “D.” In such an environment, permanent air monitoring would be an immense help.
To the NYS DEC, I have been informed that as a result of a flurry of reports from residents using our new online odor reporting system on April 12th, the DEC sent a letter to Aluf mandating that they issue a report addressing the cause of the odors, possible emission points, and proposed solutions, amongst other items, by no later than the end of this month. The DEC has substantially stepped up their efforts on this issue in the past several months and this is a strong indication that they will continue to keep the pressure up on their end.
As regards the Public Health Engineer position, which will allow us to maintain better enforcement and safety standards for, amongst other things, our air quality in Orangetown, our newly redoubled efforts to find a candidate and slight modification of the job description has attracted several qualified applicants. From those resumes we will be interviewing four candidates, and hope to be able to choose from them a motivated individual with the skills and education necessary for the position.
Finally, Aluf and their affiliates are due in court on both May 8th and May 24th to address a series of violations from this winter regarding things from building safety to property maintenance to pollution of the creek area with debris. Though we suffered a minor setback in court recently, where the judge found Aluf not guilty of a violation due to a lack of clarity as to deadlines when Aluf missed the eight week timeline to install the air filtration system they put in this past fall, it is extremely important to note that this ruling had nothing to do with the underlying fundamentals as regards the functionality of that system, the source of odors, the overall air quality, or any other aspect. We are disappointed in the decision, but we are confident that our new team in the Town Attorney’s office, to include our new hire for Deputy Town Attorney to handle code violation prosecutions and new Town Attorney, will be able to increase our success rate in all such code violation cases in Orangetown.
Your town government is using every tool in its arsenal to secure your safety and quality of life. Whether it’s air quality, building codes, fire safety, or ensuring a strong and vibrant economy, I am focused on improving Orangetown for its residents every day, and will continue to keep you updated as we both preserve our town and make it even better.
Chris Day is the Orangetown Supervisor. For additional information, please contact our email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (845) 359-5100 ext. 2293