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CCE IN THE NEWS

Source: Newsday

Medical-waste disposal ordered

BY KERY MURAKAMI

Posted: March 30, 2011
Originally Published: March 23, 2011

Suffolk Legislators last night passed a measure requiring healthcare facilities to come up with a plan for disposing of medical waste after tests found traces of drugs in 40 percent of groundwater wells sampled county wide.

Adrienne Esposito, executive director of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment, said the study, published in 2006 by the U.S. Geological Survey and Suffolk County, found only trace amounts. But she supported the measure, saying it would prevent the problem before it got worse. She said the tests most commonly found antibiotics and anticonvulsants.

“It’s very insidious. You can’t see it. You can’t smell it. You can’t tell it’s here, but it’s there,” Esposito told legislators during public testimony before the vote.

Lawmakers, though, put off voting on a measure requiring drivers to clear snow off their vehicles before driving. The sponsor, Legis. Jon Cooper (D-Lloyd Harbor) acknowledged he didn’t have the votes because of concerns in part that elderly have a difficult time removing the snow.

Cooper said he is proposing a new version that would apply only to commercial vehicles. He said the larger commercial vehicles pose a greater danger of snow falling off and hitting other vehicles.

Legislators also put off voting on another resolution that would have sold off land for County Executive Steve Levy’s controversial mega-project, Legacy Village – a move that would have effectively killed the development.

Legislative Presiding Officer William Lindsay (D-Holbrook), who has been pushing for the sale of the Yaphank property, said through a spokeswoman that he opted to table the measure because he lacked votes to pass it.

Before tabling, an opponent of the project urged lawmakers not to put the land up for sale, fearing it would simply be sold to another developer. Chad Trusnovec, 46, resident of the Yaphank Civic Association, said the project – touted by Levy as a potential home for 1,200 units of affordable housing, a destination downtown with arenas and solar-powered industrial park – would “inundate our tiny hamlet.”

The proposal would have also sold the land before public hearings on a recent environmental review. Legis. Vivian Viloria-Fisher (D-East Setauket) said some legislators believed they should wait until the end of the process before voting. She said environmentalists also opposed the sale, wanting the county to keep the land open space. Levy spokesman Dan Aug said the county executive also believes the environmental process should be completed.

Lindsay, who opposes the Legacy Project, however, has said the sale would help close the county’s $179.5 million budget shortfall for 2011-2012.
Meanwhile, lawmakers were also expected late last night to vote on a proposal to bring the high-tech anti-crime tool, ShotSpotter, to more areas of the county.

The ShotSpotter bill was sponsored by Legis. DuWayne Gregory (D-Amityville). He proposed that Suffolk spend $652,000 to buy the equipment for Wyandanch and North Bellport. Either Central Islip or Brentwood, or both, also would get the technology under Gregory’s proposal.

But Levy has expressed skepticism that the ShotSpotter technology is effective enough to be worth purchasing; instead, he proposed the county try the technology by leasing it for three years.

Levy’s proposal would bring ShotSpotter to Wyandanch, North Amityville, Huntington Station, Brentwood, and North Bellport. The plan would cost $450,000 for the first year and $310,000 for each of the next two years.

Proponents say it helps police catch suspects and help victims more quickly, and neighbors dealing with gun violence have clamored to get it.