A FOIL request revealed Norlite burned about 8 million pounds of the now banned toxic firefighting foam in a contract with the Department of Defense.
Facing community outrage about potential PFAS contamination, DEC conducted a study to look for the chemical compounds in the soil and water in the surrounding areas.
“Thankfully what we found is there wasn’t a pattern,” said DEC spokesman Sean Mahar. “We looked upwind, downwind, upstream, downstream and while yes we detected PFAS compounds in the environment, what we didn’t find was a pattern that led us to believe something had come out of the stacks.”
Mahar said that’s when the agency turned it’s attention to other issues raised by the community, like violations of dust contamination regulations.
In February, DEC issued several violation notices to Norlite. DEC said leaders at Norlite are unwilling to cooperate with them, which is what led to them calling on the AG’s office to investigate.
A spokesperson for Norlite sent this statement in response:
“Norlite already is investing the necessary resources to improve our dust suppression performance, just as we have invested heavily in recent years to improve our overall environmental performance. The Department of Environmental Conservation knows this, and its decision to pursue legal action sets up an unnecessary and unproductive fight easily avoided. We have made very clear to DEC leaders that we share the goal of protecting the environment and our community, and we are very willing to cooperate.”
The AG investigation is happening as Norlite looks to renew their permits with DEC.
“All our actions are happening on parallel tracks right now the permit renewal process that were engaged in with the facility is underway,” Mahar said.
Ritchie takes issue with that.
“This dust, this hazardous, silica dust contains glass, microscopic fragments of glass and yet they’re still allowed to operate as we speak,” he said. “Halt operations until the investigation is over with. Because right now we are just sitting ducks when it comes to this problem.”
Mahar said the agency has to follow the proper process.
“We’re a science-based organization that’s grounded in laws and regulations and we have to follow very specific processes and steps along the way and as part of those processes with the community is seeing now is how that process plays out,” he said.
NewsChannel 13 reached out to the AG’s office as well, but they are unable to comment because this is an ongoing legal matter.
Stay tuned to NewsChannel 13 for updates on this story.