CCE in the News

Controversial Sand Land mine to close within 8 years as part of state agreement



Controversial Sand Land mine to close within 8 years as part of state agreement

Posted: Mar 15, 2019 10:25 PM EDTUpdated: Mar 15, 2019 10:25 PM EDT


A controversial sand mine on the East End where groundwater contamination was detected will have to close down as part of a new agreement with the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

The Sand Land mine is allowed operate in Noyack for eight more years. For years, different groups and residents have been fighting to close the mine for good.

According to the Town of Southampton and environmentalists, illegal activities were taking place at the mine for years, including the production and sale of mulch and topsoil.

Under the agreement, DEC officials say Sand Land must immediately stop the acceptance of vegetated waste to protect water quality, implement an extensive groundwater monitoring program and prevent any horizontal expansion of the mine.

Adrienne Esposito, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, says it's a complete reversal from a few months ago, when Sand Land was mandated to close and was denied an expansion.

Also under the agreement, the company cannot expand the overall size of the mine, but it can dig down an additional 40 feet.

Bob DeLuca, head of the Group for the East End, says the Suffolk Health Department found that the 50-acre site had contaminated the groundwater with heavy metals and toxins. He questions why the state would give the mine eight more years to operate.

News 12 repeatedly reached out to the company but did not hear back. But Brian Matthews, an attorney representing the company, told Newsday that the settlement is fair. He said it strikes a balance between his client's rights to conduct mining on the property, the department's obligation to ensure that it is done properly and everyone's interest in protecting the groundwater from contamination.

Students on LI, worldwide demand action against climate change


Students on LI, worldwide demand action against climate change

Posted: Mar 15, 2019 5:32 PM EDTUpdated: Mar 15, 2019 5:32 PM EDT


Students on Long Island and around the world demanded action against climate change Friday.

From Washington, D.C., to the South Pacific and Stockholm, tens of thousands of students skipped school Friday "to teach a lesson" and share their fears about climate change.

The international "day of action" was organized on social media. The mission of the "Youth Climate Strike" organizers is to demand what’s been called a "Green New Deal." In the U.S., it includes 100 percent renewable energy by 2030, upgrading the current electric grid, and no creation of additional fossil fuel infrastructure.

Amelia Medved skipped class at Our Lady of Mercy Academy in Syosset to join the demonstration at the Mineola Long Island Rail Road station.

News 12 spoke with Pegeen Freise, a senior at Northport High School, via FaceTime as she and 17 other students returned from a Manhattan protest. She says there's no doubt they'd be able to bring about change if more people were interested in the environment.

Adrienne Esposito, of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, says student-run movements are essential in keeping the pressure on politicians.

The United Nations secretary-general says he was inspired by the student climate strikers to call a special summit in September to deal with what he called "the climate emergency."

Sand Land mine agrees to settlement with state DEC that will close Noyack facility 



Sand Land mine agrees to settlement with state DEC that will close Noyack facility 

Operators must close it within 8 years, but in the meantime vegetated waste can no longer be accepted, and a groundwater monitoring program must be implemented.

Operators of the Sand Land mine in Noyack have agreed to a legal settlement that includes implementing several actions to protect water quality. Photo Credit: Doug Kuntz

By Jean-Paul  @JPaulSalamancaUpdated March 15, 2019 5:56 PM


Operators of the Sand Land mine in Noyack have agreed to cease operations within eight years and implement several new actions to protect water quality, state Department of Environmental Conservation officials announced Friday.

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos told Newsday the mining operation had agreed to conditions in a settlement addressing the facility’s operating permit that would place it on a path to closure.

The facility is operated by Wainscott Sand & Gravel of Bridgehampton. 

Residents opposed to the expansion of the Sand Land mine visited the site in August 2018 and were among environmental groups and Southampton officials protesting the mine's application to enlarge the site. Newsday / Chuck Fadely Photo Credit: Chuck Fadely

The company has submitted a revised five-year mining permit application documenting the settlement’s terms. On Wednesday, the agency will make that application available for a 30-day public comment period. After comments are reviewed, the DEC will decide whether to grant the company the permit. The company will have to close the mine eight years from the date the permit is issued.

The conditions include Sand Land immediately no longer accepting vegetated waste to protect water quality and the implementation of an extensive groundwater monitoring program at the site.

As part of that program, Seggos said the DEC will begin next week sending drilling teams to the site as part of a study to monitor groundwater in the mine vicinity and detect any changes in groundwater quality that could be attributed to the mine or other sources. Seggos said that if the study finds that groundwater conditions are worse than initially believed, the agency could close the mining site at an “immediate” pace.

Sand Land is also prohibited from any horizontal expansion of the mine, with the site to undergo a complete reclamation in less than 10 years to ensure its return to productive use, Seggos said. 

“There is nothing in the agreement that would prevent us from exercising our full authority, and we intend to aggressively oversee the process to make sure everything we outlined here is adhered to,” Seggos said.

The settlement also limits vertical expansion at the mine to no more than 40 feet and no greater than 100 feet above the water table, which DEC officials said are the strictest limitations the agency has enacted upon such a site. An independent third-party monitor will be chosen to oversee the mining operation, Seggos said.

Despite the agreement, Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Farmingdale-based Citizens Campaign for the Environment, said she found it “disturbing” that sand mining was still allowed at the site instead of its operators being forced to close it immediately.

“It’s upsetting that this settlement agreement happened without the town or the stakeholders involved and appears to be an undermining of any progress we made,” Esposito said.

Esposito was referring to a DEC order in September ordering Sand Land to cease mining in the wake of a June 2018 report by the Suffolk County Health Services Department that found elevated levels of manganese and iron in the groundwater at the site. The company is allowed to use the mine under State Administrative Review Act guidelines, DEC officials confirmed.

Brian Matthews, an East Hampton-based attorney representing the company, said Friday that the settlement is fair.

“In our view, the settlement strikes a balance between our client’s long-established rights to conduct mining on the property, the department’s obligation to ensure mining is done in a proper manner and everyone’s interest in ensuring that no groundwater contamination occurs at the site as a result of the operations,” he said.

D.E.C. to Let Sand Land Mine Stay Open



D.E.C. to Let Sand Land Mine Stay Open

By Johnette Howard | March 18, 2019 - 2:48pm

Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. and environmental advocates reacted with strong dismay Monday to an announcement by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation regarding a "comprehensive" settlement with the Sand Land Mine in Noyac that rolls back the timing and circumstances under which the industrial mine has to close, even though it has been found to be contaminating the area's water table.

Mr. Thiele blasted the deal.

"Sand Land is a proven polluter and lawbreaker," he said in a statement. "The Suffolk County Department of Health Services issued a report conclusively demonstrating that the groundwater under the mine is contaminated with pollutants associated with activities conducted at the mine. State courts have found that Sand Land has not complied with the Southampton Town zoning code. The state D.E.C. acknowledges that state mining regulations have been previously violated, resulting in a consent order and penalties."

"What are the consequences for polluting the groundwater and violating the law? The polluter was rewarded," Mr. Thiele added. "Despite intense community interest, the settlement was negotiated behind closed doors with no community involvement."

Adrienne Esposito, executive director of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment, called the settlement "a mind-boggling backroom deal."

"The D.E.C. betrayed the public and is putting our groundwater at risk," Ms. Esposito said.

The settlement is an about-face from the D.E.C.'s decision last September for a notice of intent to modify the sand mining permit for Sand Land. That ruling, had it stood, would have provided for the closure of the mine and its reclamation within two years after its permit expired last November.

At the time, the ruling was hailed for potentially ending a two-decade-long fight between the mine's owner, John A. Tintle of Wainscott Sand and Gravel, and local elected officials, the Town of Southampton, and citizens and environmental groups such as the Noyac Civic Council, the Group for the East End, and Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

Mr. Tintle exercised his right to appeal the D.E.C.'s permit ruling, and the multifaceted settlement he and the D.E.C. reached — which also includes provisions for testing and monitoring of the site — would now allow Sand Land to not only continue mining at the site until 2027, but also expand its existing mine by a depth of 40 feet.

Reclamation of the site would now be pushed back to at least 2029.

"This is truly a disaster. Beyond disturbing," said Bob DeLuca, president of the Group for the East End. "This settlement stands as one of the most significant examples of bureaucratic incompetence that I have seen in my 30-plus years as an environmental professional, and its negative implications on water quality will be felt well beyond this site."

Sand Land sits over a Special Groundwater Protection Area that is important to the South Fork's long-term drinking water supply, not just that of nearby residents. The mine is in the deepest groundwater recharge area east of the Shinnecock Canal.

The Suffolk County Health Department released a study on June 29 that confirmed for the first time what Sand Land's critics had long argued: The company's mining and other operations such as the processing of vegetative waste, construction debris, compost, and mulch resulted in the release of iron, manganese, thallium, sodium, nitrate, ammonia, and gross alpha (radioactivity) into the aquifer and deep-water recharge area beneath the 50-acre site.

Iron was found at concentrations over 200 times the drinking water standard, and manganese was found at concentrations almost 100 times the drinking water standard.

But even the county's ability to conduct those tests at the mine was a litigious, drawn-out process.

Sand Land officials had initially agreed in 2015 to allow the county to do on-site well drilling and water testing, then rescinded permission. County officials ultimately went to court to gain access. That didn't happen until October of 2017, when the wells were finally drilled.

The county's lab completed testing of the samples in February of 2018.

A month later, the county's hydrogeologists finished quality control and validation processes and sent samples to the D.E.C. and the New York State Department of Health. About the same time, the Noyac citizens group and others hired their own expert to review the county's raw data, which they obtained via a Freedom of Information request. The expert's report came to the same general conclusions that the Suffolk County Health Department's report had: The plant is a hazard.

At the time, Sand Land's attorney, Brian Matthews of Matthews, Kirst & Cooley of East Hampton, responded by arguing that the county's findings were flawed.

Now that the D.E.C. has reversed course, the long fight is likely to resume, perhaps back in court.

The D.E.C. statement said Sand Land had submitted a revised mining permit application documenting all of the terms of the settlement that the D.E.C. will make available for public review and comment on Wednesday. After reviewing all applicable public comments, the D.E.C. will make a determination whether to issue the permit.

Mr. Thiele said he is among those who intend to fight. He called for the D.E.C. to hold public hearings on the mine, and demanded that the settlement with Sand Land be subjected to "the most stringent environmental review required by law."

Mr. DeLuca urged a strong response from Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman, who, like Mr. Thiele, has supported the closing of Sand Land in the past.

"It will be critical for the Town of Southampton to quickly engage," Mr. DeLuca said, "to formally reject this settlement and stiffen its resolve to invoke its own authority under the mining law to prohibit any further expansion. There should be an immediate town board resolution to this effect, and it must be part of the record for the new permit application review."

"I see this as a big victory for Sand Land; I’m not seeing it as a big victory for the town," Mr. Schneiderman said Monday. "The other day we were looking at the [2018 D.E.C.] letter that said you’re done, no more mining, reclamation only. And that was exactly the result we were looking for. And then suddenly everything is turned on its head. And we’re all left scratching our heads. Today we’re looking at eight more years of sand mining. And it goes against the position the town has had in terms of not wanting to see additional intensification of mining at that site too."

"I need to talk about it with the town board and our legal counsel, as to what the town's response will be," he added. "But I was not happy."

"If the town is ignored," Mr. DeLuca said, "it must sue the D.E.C. to preserve its rights under the state mining law."

Great Lakes advocates speak out against Trump budget


Credit: Veronica Volk

Credit: Veronica Volk

Great Lakes advocates speak out against Trump budget

By Veronica Volk Mar 14, 2019

The GLRI funds habitat restoration like this cattail remediation project in Braddock Bay, New York.

Credit Veronica Volk / WXXI News

President Donald Trump’s budget proposal includes major cuts to Great Lakes restoration efforts.

The administration's 2020 budget proposal would cut funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative by more than 90 percent.

This initiative funds projects from habitat restoration to shoreline improvement programs, and is usually fully funded at $300 million a year. This budget would knock that down to $10 million.

Brian Smith is with the Citizens Campaign for the Environment in Buffalo. He said now is not the time to reduce efforts to restore the health and sustainability of the lakes.

"Not only would this stifle the tremendous progress that we're making on Great Lakes restoration," Smith said, "but it would put at risk the billions of investment we've already made to date."

This isn’t the first time the Trump administration has threatened to make deep cuts to Great Lakes funding. Smith said even though Democrats and Republicans have fought together to protect the lakes in the past, he’s not taking this lightly.

"We are really counting on Congress to once again step up work together and restore full funding to the GLRI," he said.

Not everyone is disappointed by the budget proposal. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is receiving more than $4 billion for its Civil Works projects, a portion of which will go to maintain federal shipping channels and navigation in Buffalo.

Why the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative matters to WNY

Why the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative matters to WNY


By T.J. Pignataro|Published March 14, 2019

The benefits of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative are spread across Western New York.

They are apparent to those kayaking on a cleaned-up Buffalo River, fishing in Cattaraugus Creek or biking around Grand Island. The federal program has paid to remove toxins, rebuild habitat and restore wildlife species such as the bald eagle and lake sturgeon.

But now the Great Lakes program faces a budget cut, as it has the previous three years, with President Trump now proposing a 90 percent cut to the program in his 2020 fiscal budget.

Since 2010, more than $2 billion has been allocated among 3,400 restoration initiative projects -- up to $300 million a year shared by Great Lakes states.

"It puzzles me," said Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster, who's also on the binational Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Cities Initiative board. "This program has received strong bipartisan support. The White House is increasingly isolated in calling for these cuts, but we can't take anything for granted."

"This has put all Great Lakes communities in a defensive and competitive mindset where we have to fight each other for the dwindling resources in order to achieve restoration in our own community," said Jill Jedlicka, executive director of Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper.


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Here are some of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative programs in jeopardy across the Buffalo Niagara region.

Niagara River restoration

One of the biggest ongoing local projects involves the $2.7 million project to restore habitat at four locations.

The projects at Buckhorn Island State Park, Grass Island, Burnt Ship Creek and East River Marsh are designed to improve water quality and restore habitat for terrestrial and aquatic wildlife.

The state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation is implementing the four-year project, which started in 2017.

"The Niagara River is now on the cusp of moving forward with major restoration efforts," said Brian Smith, the associate executive director for Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

If the funding cuts happen, the Niagara River won't benefit environmentally like the Buffalo River has, Smith said.

The Niagara River was identified as an area of concern in 1987. Cuts to the program would delay its restoration for years, he said.

Buffalo River restoration

It took millions of initiative dollars to help rid the Buffalo River of a century’s worth of toxins. In the last decade, the program paid for the restoration of habitat at 13 sites along the river corridor between Old Bailey Woods and Canalside.

The next steps in the river’s restoration include assessing the relative success of those efforts.

One of those includes a more than $188,700 three-year survey of wildlife around the 13 sites to determine the restoration's effectiveness. Information gleaned from the survey, scheduled to run through 2021, could eventually be used to de-list the Buffalo River as a federal area of concern.

"The restoration of the Buffalo River, the revitalization of our waterfront, and the recovery of our water-based economy would not have happened without the GLRI," Jedlicka said. "The cost of Great Lakes restoration across the basin is estimated to be tens of billions of dollars. For comparison, the toxic sediment cleanup of the Buffalo River alone cost nearly $50 million, so to have an executive budget proposal that slashes the GLRI down to $30 million to be shared among eight Great Lakes states is incomprehensible."

Outer Harbor restoration

Last year, dredged material from the bottom of a cleaned-up Buffalo River was clean enough to use in environmental restoration work for the first time.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers restored a long-lost wetland connection and a fish passage between the northern area of Unity Island and the Niagara River.

Buffalo’s Outer Harbor is the next destination for clean sediment from the regular dredging of the river’s navigation channel. Plans call for a deep slip near Wilkeson Pointe and at the Union Ship Canal to be filled in with sediment to create shoreline wetland habitats.

About $83,800 in GLRI funds were scheduled to go to the Corps of Engineers to prepare project reports, scoping documents and administer public review efforts through 2022.

Native lake sturgeon

The lake sturgeon traces its ancestry back to the era of the dinosaurs.

It thrived in waters around the Buffalo Niagara region until overfishing, pollution and habitat degradation nearly obliterated the species during the late 19th and 20th centuries.

Efforts to restore the native fish, which scientists say still naturally reproduces in the Niagara River and Buffalo Harbor, have ramped up in Western New York and the Great Lakes under the initiative.

A nearly $90,000 project implemented through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to assess the health of the lake sturgeon and study its habitat preferences in the lower Niagara River was scheduled to continue through 2020. A separate project is designed to track the movements of lake sturgeon into Lake Ontario from the Genesee River using acoustic telemetry.

Bloater chub

The bloater chub is being restored to be eaten.

And, if efforts by state and federal environmental agencies are successful in restoring the native prey fish back to Lake Ontario’s food chain, it could be a vital boost for the native lake trout and the lake’s ecosystem at large, officials said.

The latest effort – a modest $36,615 project through the Fish and Wildlife Service – would further efforts to rear the bloater chub for stocking into Lake Ontario through 2020.

More fish protection

Myriad chemicals and toxins in Great Lakes waters threaten fish and aquatic life.

A three-year $600,000 project implemented through the state Department of Environmental Conservation involves collecting about 350 samples of young fish from the state’s waters and testing them for PCBs, mercury, flame-retardants and other chemicals to gauge the effectiveness of the state’s ongoing efforts to clean up the waters.

Results would also be used to determine the risks contaminants pose to fish and ascertain what additional environmental restoration remains to be done.

Nutrient loading

Reducing the amount of phosphorus and other nutrients from reaching Lake Erie is part of a binational agreement that includes five states and the province of Ontario.

Excessive nutrients get into the water from agricultural runoff and sewage overflows. They’re suspected of fueling the lake’s annual blooms of toxic algae.

In New York, the continuation of a $300,000 project to obtain data on nutrients and pathogens in tributaries emptying into eastern Lake Erie is ongoing through 2020 by the U.S. Geological Survey. That project is designed to help the state meet its nutrient reduction goals for Lake Erie.

Stormwater reduction

When heavy rains come, stormwater systems are overwhelmed.

That leads to high bacteria levels and summertime beach closings.

One way to capture stormwater before it reaches the beach is through green infrastructure projects.

Some $600,000 in GLRI funds were allocated over three years through 2020 to a pair of projects – at Lake Erie Beach Park in Evans and Point Gratiot Park in Dunkirk. The funds would go toward building green infrastructure areas that would reduce runoff at parks and beaches.

Owners of proposed Yaphank fish farm to pay $1.3M fine for illegal sand dig



Owners of proposed Yaphank fish farm to pay $1.3M fine for illegal sand dig

BlueGreen Farms Inc. dug outside its 67-acre property without a DEC mining permit, within feet of the water table, and on privately owned property, officials say.

A view of the 67-acre BlueGreen Farms on the northeast corner of Horseblock Road and Grucci Lane in Medford on Thursday. Photo Credit: James Carbone

By David M.  @schwartznewsNYUpdated March 14, 2019 9:31 PM


The owners of a long-proposed Yaphank fish farm have agreed to pay a $1.3 million penalty for taking more than 200,000 yards of sand and gravel without a permit, one of the largest actions for illegally digging sand in state history, the Department of Environmental Conservation said Thursday.

BlueGreen Farms Inc. has legally mined millions of cubic yards of sand out of the ground at the Yaphank site of the proposed fish farm. But the company, which has proposed raising sturgeon, striped bass and leafy greens like lettuce at the site since 2010, dug outside of its 67-acre property without a DEC mining permit, within feet of the water table, and on privately owned property, according to the DEC.

Regulators said they are trying to keep watch on the lucrative sand mining industry.

Members of local civic organizations at the site of Blue Green Farms construction in Yaphank on Jan. 26, 2012.  Photo Credit: Newsday/Ed Betz

"This sends a message," said regional DEC director Carrie Meek Gallagher. "We're trying to make it more than the cost of doing business."

Street prices for sand range from $16 to $30 a yard, with an average price of $20 a yard, according to the DEC.

Bob Del Col, general counsel, for BlueGreen Farms, said the price is closer to $10 a yard. He blamed unclear boundary lines, and said the company still one day hopes to build a fish farm as well as a hydroponic farm.

"Boundary lines in Eastern Long Island are, to say the least, very unreliable," he said. "From what I understand, the DEC came up with a boundary that we disputed. We’re allowed to do what we’re doing on this property. They disagreed."

He added: "It was cheaper just to end it."

He blamed government agencies for making it difficult to secure financing.

"We have spent millions of dollars on feasibility studies, on site plans, on financing, and all I’m going to tell you, for now, every step of the way we have been obstructed and impeded and various governmental agencies and municipalities have made building this thing impossible," he said.

In a statement later, he said the dispute was over a half-acre site, and the company admitted no wrongdoing.

According to the Order on Consent, signed by owner Eugene Fernandez of Hauppauge, BlueGreen Farms has to pay $125,000 and contribute $600,000 for a groundwater study being conducted with the U.S. Geological Survey. Another $625,000 fine is suspended, unless they don't comply with the order.

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said in a statement, "Illegal sand mining not only robs the people of Long Island of these precious resources, if done improperly, it can cause irreparable harm to our environment. New York State will continue our aggressive, on-the-ground oversight to ensure every facility complies with applicable rules and regulations."

Since the proposed fish farm was approved in 2010, DEC's Meek Gallagher said there has been "some skepticism about the whole proposal" and that the proposal was more about taking sand out of the ground than actually building a fish farm. But agricultural uses and construction projects are exempt from state mining law, she said. The facility has an agreement with the town of Brookhaven to excavate approximately 4.5 million cubic yards of sand in the first phase of its multiphase plan, the DEC said in a statement.

Brookhaven Town spokesman Jack Krieger declined to comment on the fine late Thursday but said a project on site was not approved.

The DEC said "millions of cubic yards of sand" have been mined from the property. While concrete foundations for the greenhouse were poured in 2013, no further development has taken place. In 2016, the DEC received a complaint that the company was mining outside of the allotted area. In November 2017, DEC issued notices of violations.

"Sand is an extremely valuable commodity. And Long Island has very good sand for all type of construction purposes," Meek Gallagher said. She said exemptions for construction and agriculture are "big concerns. People use these types of exemption."

Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, said she was "thrilled" with the fine.

 “The stealing of sand on Long Island creates craters on the landscape, destroys local ecosystems and makes our drinking water vulnerable to contamination,” she said.

State DEC: Brookhaven Town failed to contain foul stench from landfill


State DEC: Brookhaven Town failed to contain foul stench from landfill

Posted: Mar 13, 2019 5:40 AM EDTUpdated: Mar 13, 2019 5:54 PM EDT

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The state Department of Environmental Conservation say the Town of Brookhaven landfill violated air quality rules following months of foul-smelling complaints from residents.

The DEC says the town repeatedly violated state air-quality rules last December by failing to contain foul odors from the landfill.

Adrienne Esposito, of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, says the violations basically amount to "a slap on the wrist" for the town and don't fix the issue.

"People at the school are suffering," she says, referring to Frank P. Long Intermediate School, where some students and teachers have reported falling ill due to the landfill. Parents have been fighting for the school's closure.

Wendy Mijal pays out of pocket for her 9-year-old daughter to go to a neighboring district because of health concerns stemming from the landfill. She says she's outraged by the lack of action from the town.

The Town of Brookhaven issued a statement saying: "Working with the NYDEC, we have undertaken an aggressive program to cap and close this landfill and provide increased measures to combat odors traditionally associated with landfills."

Bill Would Ban 1,4-Dioxane, ‘Probable Carcinogen,’ In New York



Bill Would Ban 1,4-Dioxane, ‘Probable Carcinogen,’ In New York


By JILL RYAN  MAR 8, 2019

New York Assemblyman Steve Englebright, D- Setauket, speaks to environmental coalition groups during a rally at the state Capitol in Albany in 2016. Englebright recently introduced legislation in the state Assembly to ban the chemical 1,4-dioxane.

The New York State Assembly will consider a bill to ban 1,4-dioxane, a toxic chemical found in household products that has contaminated drinking water wells on Long Island.

The chemical is found in detergent, shampoo and soap and can be dangerous if consumed.

“1,4-dioxane is a toxic chemical that is listed by the U.S. EPA as a probable human carcinogen, which means it causes cancer. It specifically does damage to the liver and to the kidneys. This is a chemical we don’t want in our drinking water and we don’t want it in our common products,” said Adrienne Esposito, executive director for the Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

The bill would require manufacturers to sell products with only trace amounts of the chemical.

Esposito said companies must do better to keep the public safe.

“The companies should be filtering it out before it gets into the product. The manufacturers can do this, very cost effectively, it’s just that right now the manufacturers choose not to.”

State Assemblyman Steve Englebright of East Setauket proposed the bill.

“We know that 1,4-dioxane is contaminating our drinking water on Long Island. We have serious contamination, more in fact on Long Island than in any other part of the state.”

The bill will go to the Environmental Conservation Committee next week and then on to the Assembly floor in the next couple of weeks.

Clean-up efforts are underway to remediate contaminated drinking water on Long Island.

Proposed bill would ban 1,4-dioxane from household products

Proposed bill would ban 1,4-dioxane from household products

SOURCE: Newsday

A separate proposal in the governor's budget would require manufacturers to disclose whether products contain carcinogens and other toxic materials.

Adrienne Esposito of Citizens Campaign for the Environment is seen in a 2018 news conference about Tide and other household products with high levels of 1,4-dioxane, a possible carcinogen. Photo Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

By David M.  @schwartznewsNYMarch 6, 2019 6:43 PM


Manufacturers would be banned from selling household products such as body washes, detergents and baby products that contain a likely carcinogen found in Long Island’s drinking water under state legislation being pushed by environmentalists and water providers.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, meanwhile, has a separate proposal that would require manufacturers to disclose whether products contain carcinogens and other toxic materials.

The chemical 1,4-dioxane has been found in Long Island drinking water wells, prompting water providers to warn that rates could possibly double to help pay for the $840 million in treatment costs.

While much of the groundwater contamination has been tied to the chemical’s use in industrial solvents, the chemical also is found in household products as a byproduct of the manufacturing process. It can end up down the drain and in the aquifer through septic systems or sewage treatment plants.

“We want to prevent more of this cancer-causing substance from being introduced into the Long Island water supply,” said Stephen Liss, counsel for Assemb. Steven Englebright (D-Setauket).

Engelbright introduced a bill Monday that would prohibit cleaning and personal care products from containing 1,4-dioxane, except in trace amounts.

State Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach) had introduced a similar ban in the Senate and plans to introduce identical legislation, his office said Wednesday.

Kaminsky said the bill “sends an important message that 1,4-dioxane is in a separate category. . . . It’s one chemical that Long Islanders are particularly sensitive to.”

Product manufacturers said they’re opposed to both the ban and the proposed labeling requirement, which would give broad authority to state regulators to write disclosure rules.

Industry representatives said the detections of 1,4-dioxane are so low that they’re safe for the public.

“Consumers can continue to use these products with confidence like they do millions of times every single day — safely and effectively,” said Brian Sansoni, spokesman for the American Cleaning Institute, which represents soap, detergent and cleaning supply manufacturers.

Environmental groups and water providers said while they support Cuomo’s proposal to label products with toxic materials, they’re pressing for the ban.

“It’s clearly counterproductive to filter this toxic chemical from our water, and then recontaminate it by using shampoos, laundry soaps, and bath products that are filled with 1,4-dioxane,” said Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Farmingdale-based Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

The advocacy group in 2018 found 23 of 30 household products they tested contained 1,4-dioxane, which is a byproduct from the manufacturing process, including shampoos, stain lifters, body washes and detergents. That includes products that tested above the federal recommendation of levels for skin exposure.

Dennis Kelleher, spokesman for the Long Island Water Conference, which represents water providers, said in a statement, “We must end the cycle of polluting our soil, and subsequently our groundwater, with the use of products that contain 1,4-dioxane.”

He called Cuomo’s proposal for labeling “a step in the right direction, but it is not a solution.” He compared it to labels about the harm of cigarettes, but noted some people still smoke.

Cuomo in January announced the “Consumer Chemical Awareness Act” by saying “labeling on designated products will provide consumers with the information they deserve.”

The state regulators are negotiating with manufacturers and environmental advocates on the language, officials said.

The industry group Household & Commercial Products Association said New York should consider adopting California’s model for product disclosure “to create consistency for consumers.”

“Governor Cuomo has introduced an unworkable ingredient communication proposal in his 2019 budget that is extremely vague and leaves much of the regulation up to the discretion of the commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation,” according to a statement from Owen Caine, an executive vice president for the Household & Commercial Products Association.

But environmental advocates said California’s minimum for reporting contamination is too high, allowing manufacturers to evade disclosure.

“It’s at astronomically high disclosure levels,” said Kathleen Curtis, executive director of Albany-based advocacy group Clean and Healthy New York.

About 1,4-dioxane

The chemical 1,4-dioxane, designated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a likely human carcinogen associated with liver and kidney damage, is the top concern of drinking water providers because it has been found widely on Long Island, and is not removed through conventional treatment methods, water providers said. The man-made chemical is found in industrial solvents and in trace amounts in cosmetics, detergents, shampoos and other home care products.

Environmentalists and health advocates said New York State should implement a new maximum contaminant level as quickly as possible to protect the public. Water providers have asked for an extended timeline to install treatment.

MRF operators come out in force against New York bottle bill expansion


Dive Brief:

  • New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's proposed expansion of the state's bottle bill to include non-alcoholic, uncarbonated drinks has run into well-coordinated opposition from the recycling industry and county officials. Following the release of a flyer deeming it a "threat to recycling" in February, opponents hit the capitol in Albany with concerted lobbying this past week.

  • Speaking to the mechanics of maintaining profitability in a post-National Sword business environment, Sims Municipal Recycling (SMR), Waste Management, Republic Services, Waste Connections, Casella Waste Systems, the NWRA and others claimed that the proposal would cut average inbound commodity values by $14.23 per ton due in part to the loss of PET containers.

  • The New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC) has also come out against the proposal, echoing the recycling companies' proposal for a glass-only expansion that would target “wine and liquor bottles, hard cider bottles, and non-alcoholic glass beverage containers." The Natural Resources Defense Council confirmed to Waste Dive it shares the same position.

Dive Insight:

Cuomo's bottle bill plans were introduced in January, alongside a plastic bag ban, in his FY20 budget proposal. Despite arguments that expanding eligibility to non-alcoholic beverage containers such as juice, tea-based beverages and sports drinks will decrease New York’s contribution to landfills and incinerators, the governor's proposal is running into common and concerted industry opposition.

The 10 service providers that signed onto the February flyer claim to process more than 80% of New York's recyclables. According to MRF operators, many of whom have been spending more capital to create cleaner streams, diverting valuable plastic and aluminum containers "pulls the economic rug out from under these investment investments and weakens this infrastructure." Glass, on the other hand, is largely unprofitable, with "less than 20%" being made into new products.

In its rebuttal, SMR outlined another potential spillover effect caused by the plausible reduction of valuable plastics from curbside pickups. Because ongoing recycling of thermoform plastics depends on industry’s ability to supplement the mix with a requisite share of bottle plastic and other PET, a drop in the availability of PET could hamper New York City's ongoing rigid plastic recycling efforts. The company believes this undermines local "zero waste" efforts, concluding that "continuing to remove materials of value from the curbside mix jeopardizes the entire residential recycling model."

While the opposition messaging has thus far garnered more attention, Cuomo's proposal does have its supporters — the Container Recycling InstituteNew York League of Conservation Voters, Citizens Campaign for the Environment and the New York Public Interest Research Group are among multiple organizations that have come out in favor. In one point of agreement, they too would like to see more glass containers included.

With lawmakers in neighboring Connecticut considering a similar bottle bill expansion, the battle in New York will test not just the merits of Cuomo’s appeal to “protect the environment for future generations,” but also the strength of pro-bottle bill arguments in a tightening recycling market. New York's state budget legislation is due for approval by March 31.

LI Environmentalists Say EPA Acting Too Slowly On PFAS Regulation

LI Environmentalists Say EPA Acting Too Slowly On PFAS Regulation


By JILL RYAN  FEB 15, 2019

The EPA plans to propose a drinking water standard by the end of the year to address harmful chemicals found in drinking water across the country. But environmentalists are skeptical.

Chemicals known as PFAS have been used to extinguish fires since the 1940s. But over time PFAS have seeped into the drinking water of nearby communities.  

Susan Bodine, assistant administrator of the EPA’s Office of Eenforcement and Compliance Assurance, said PFAS is a known carcinogen, but the EPA needs more time to study its effects.

Executive Director Adrienne Esposito of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment said it’s too long of a process to establish a drinking water standard.

“We are very disturbed by the continued delay. This is a highly toxic chemical and unfortunately the EPA is moving at a pre-global warming glacial speed to regulate it.”

Esposito said the EPA may need a couple more years before regulations can be made.

New York moves to regulate a ‘likely human carcinogen’ in drinking water

New York moves to regulate a ‘likely human carcinogen’ in drinking water


New York state is proposing the country’s first firm limit on a chemical found in drinking water in heavy concentrations in some Long Island, New York communities. 1,4-dioxane has been labeled a “likely human carcinogen” by the EPA, but is not currently regulated in drinking water at the federal level. Hari Sreenivasan reports in this follow-up to our 2017 story.

Read the Full Transcript

·         Hari Sreenivasan:

The Environmental Protection Agency recently announced it would start the process of setting drinking water standards for two widely found chemicals by the end of this year. PFOA and PFOS were used to make things like non-stick cookware and water repellent materials. They have since been linked with cancer, kidney disease, and weakened childhood immunity. But the federal government regulating new chemicals in drinking water is uncommon. It's a task often left to states, if it happens at all. In tonight's signature segment we are updating a report on drinking water safety and New York state's push to regulate a chemical found in drinking water around Long Island. It's a story about how one region is trying to clean up its water, and how costly it can be.

·         Hari Sreenivasan:

So this is one of the more contaminated well sites?

·         Rich Humann:


·         Hari Sreenivasan:

Engineer Rich Humann is showing me a water treatment plant in suburban Bethpage on Long Island, New York.

These cylinders are like giant versions of the water filter in your fridge. Installed in 1990, they use carbon to clean water polluted by decades-old industrial activity.

But they aren't effective at removing a new contaminant that has been detected in Long Island's water.

So what are these going to do?

·         Rich Humann:

So this is the advanced oxidation system that the Bethpage Water District had installed primarily to deal with 1,4-dioxane.

·         Hari Sreenivasan:

1,4-dioxane is a chemical found in degreasers, paint-strippers, solvents, and in some consumer products like detergents and soaps.

It's classified as a quote "likely human carcinogen" by the Environmental Protection Agency, associated with nasal cavity, liver and gall bladder tumors in animal studies.

Is there a gap between what's tested and what's in the water?

·         Adrienne Esposito:

The answer is yes. We have more emerging chemicals. We have to mandate that those chemicals are tested for.

·         Hari Sreenivasan:

Adrienne Esposito runs the Citizens Campaign for the Environment, which is based on Long Island. It has been raising alarms about the lack of regulation around 1,4-dioxane and other unregulated contaminants in drinking water.

·         Adrienne Esposito:

Each year we know a little bit more, we test a little bit more, and we find a little bit more and that's a little bit scary.

·         Hari Sreenivasan:

Between 2013 and 2015, the EPA required every large water provider in the US to test for 1,4-dioxane. That's the first step in whether or not a contaminant will be regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act. Results showed that Long Island was a hot spot.

More than 70 percent of water authorities here had levels of 1,4-dioxane above .35 parts per billion. That's the level that the EPA calculates poses a lifetime, one-in-a-million increased chance of developing cancer.

That may not sound like that high a risk level, but many sites here on Long Island had levels way above the ones associated with that long-term cancer risk. In fact, officials here in Hicksville had to shut down this well in 2015 because it was found to have levels of 1,4-dioxane that were the highest in the country, amounts that were nearly a 100 times higher than that one-in-a-million risk level.

But 1,4-dioxane's presence in drinking water doesn't mean it'll necessarily be regulated at the federal level. the EPA says it will not make any final determination until at least 2021.

·         Stan Carey:

The federal government didn't take a lead role in wanting to regulate it. So the state decided that due to the high occurrence on Long Island that we were going to take a closer look.

·         Hari Sreenivasan:

Stan Carey is the superintendent of the Massapequa Water District on Long Island. In 2017, he was appointed by Governor Andrew Cuomo to be on the New York State Drinking Water Quality Council. The council was charged with coming up with a level under which 1,4-dioxane and two other unregulated chemicals should remain.

·         Stan Carey:

Do you have any numbers if that standard was set lower?

·         Hari Sreenivasan:

In December 2018, the council recommended that the maximum allowable level of 1,4-dioxane in drinking water should be one part per billion. In other words, about three times the level associated with that one-in-a-million cancer risk.

Carey says he supports the recommendation of the council, but he actually would have allowed for more 1,4 dioxane to be in the water. He says other chemicals aren't regulated so stringently.

·         Stan Carey:

I don't want to, you know, jeopardize public health. I wasn't trying to do that. But other contaminants that are regulated, they are not regulated at the one-in-a-million cancer risk level. Vinyl chloride, TCE, Trichloroethylene, they're regulated in the range closer to one-in-ten-thousand. So putting it in perspective, that's what I was using as a comparison.

·         Hari Sreenivasan:

Carey also says that even though the limit might be one part per billion, the state ordinarily makes water suppliers take action before a chemical reaches the maximum level. Meaning in practice, water utilities will be forced to meet an even lower limit. And then there's the potential cost for water providers and ratepayers.

·         Stanley Carey:

You have to take in the cost of the treatment and there has to be a balance of actually what's feasible to implement.

·         Hari Sreenivasan:

Esposito says the proposed new limit, which would be the first firm regulation on 1,4-dioxane in the country, will protect New Yorkers.

·         Adrienne Esposito:

Right now there is no standard. So for the public to gain that level of protection, that's a significant advancement of public health protection.

·         Hari Sreenivasan:

Esposito acknowledges the challenge is how water providers will pay to meet this new state standard.

·         Adrienne Esposito:

Many of the water supplies do do due diligence. I think they actually want to know what's in the drinking water. The problem is when they find out something's there, the cost of the treatment.

·         Hari Sreenivasan:

New York state allocated $2.5 billion towards water infrastructure in 2017. And last October, the state announced $200 million of that money would fund treatment for emerging contaminants, including 1,4-dioxane.

At Bethpage's plant six, the level of 1,4-dioxane tested eight times higher than New York's proposed threshold.

·         Rich Humann:

So two million gallons a day water can be treated through this set of reactors.

·         Hari Sreenivasan:

The water district is piloting this advanced oxidation process, or AOP, and splitting the nearly $3 million cost with the state. The system, which is still being tested, is one of the only known ways to remove 1,4-dioxane from water

·         Rich Humann:

One of the more significant challenges in dealing with 1,4-dioxane is it's highly soluble which makes it difficult to come out of water through some traditional treatment techniques.

·         Hari Sreenivasan:

Humann showed us how it works. Hydrogen peroxide is added to the untreated water. The water is then run past UV lamps. The process breaks down and removes the 1,4-dioxane from the water.

·         Rich Humann:

You can do everything from a technical perspective and you can understand the theory and how the treatment supposed to work. But you know there's always the practicality of the actual operation of the system.

·         Hari Sreenivasan:

In fact there are unknowns about how this technology even works. At the Center for Clean Water Technology at Stony Brook University, researchers are studying the system using a miniature version, and setting up AOP pilot projects at four water utilities on long island. Arjun Venkatesan is the Associate Director for Drinking Water Initiatives at the center.

·         Arjun Venkatesan:

This is a simulated groundwater. We add known amounts of contaminants, in this case it's 1,4-dioxane, and the water is pumped through the reactor. This is set up in such a way that we can understand how quickly the dioxane degrades over time.

·         Hari Sreenivasan:

The Center's researchers are also looking at chemical byproducts created when UV light reacts with the contaminated water.

·         Arjun Venkatesan:

We want to make sure the advanced oxidation process system does not generate some toxic chemicals that we don't understand yet.

·         Hari Sreenivasan:

Long Island's industrial past plays a big role in its drinking water issues. Bethpage was home to a 600 acre complex where the US Navy and defense contractor Grumman, now Northrop Grumman, developed and built aerospace equipment from the mid-1930s to the 1990s. Industrial waste from the site has sunk down to the aquifer, which is the sole source of drinking water for nearly 3 million people on long island.

Engineer Rich Humann says the underground plume, as it's known, is a reality that water providers like Bethpage have to deal with.

·         Rich Humann:

We're never going to get away at least I'm going to say in my lifetime from the fact that we've got the old Navy/Grumman property

·         Hari Sreenivasan:


·         Rich Humann:

We've got one of the most significant groundwater contamination plumes in the entire country that this water district has been impacted like no other. And dealing with the burden that frankly no water supplier should have to deal with, but they have no choice.

·         Hari Sreenivasan:

Elsewhere on Long Island, some water providers are suing the makers of 1,4-dioxane. Since 2017, at least ten of them have filed lawsuits against Dow Chemical, and two other chemical manufacturers.

In a statement to Newshour Weekend, Dow said, in part, that, "these lawsuits are without merit."

The chemical industry more broadly downplays the risks from 1,4-dioxane. In a statement, the American Chemistry Council, an industry group, said, in part, it's "…troubled by [New York's]… recommendation for 1,4 dioxane…" Claiming that it's "…neither scientifically justified nor economically feasible." And points out that in Canada, the limit is 50 parts per billion, 50 times New York's proposed standard.

Meanwhile, in Bethpage, officials tell us it's not just the contaminants they know about, like 1,4-dioxane, that worry them.

·         Hari Sreenivasan:

Considering all of the other chemicals out there that have happened in the last 30 or 40 years. When science starts to figure out how to detect those in the water. Does that mean we're going to have to build new tools like this just to be able to get that out of our drinking water?

·         Rich Humann:

That's… If 1,4-dioxane as an indicator, then that's, that's likely.

Letters: More action, info on 1,4-dioxane needed

Letters: More action, info on 1,4-dioxane needed

Reader letters to Newsday for Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019.


Bethpage Water District superintendent Mike Boufis describes the water district's pilot water treatment system that incorporates a new technology to remove 1,4-dioxane, an emerging contaminant that has been found in dozens of drinking water wells across Long Island. Photo Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

By Newsday Readers

The most critical obligation of water suppliers across Long Island is to provide clean, safe drinking water to Long Island’s nearly 3 million residents. That is why it is so disturbing to learn that they want to delay filtering for 1,4-dioxane for three years [“$840M to clean LI’s water,” News, Feb. 18]. Yes, the treatment technology is new and expensive, but so are the costs of treating liver and kidney damage, and cancer, which are all health impacts associated with consuming this chemical.

The Citizens Campaign for the Environment and other environmental organizations have successfully lobbied in Albany for state grants to water suppliers to meet this new filtration need. We continue to work for more money for this critical purpose. Rather than ask for a delay, it would be highly preferable for water suppliers to assure the public they will begin filtering drinking water wells that have the highest levels of 1,4-dioxane and will work hard to meet the overwhelming need of providing clean water.

Adrienne Esposito, Farmingdale

Editor’s note: The writer is executive director of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment, an advocacy organization.


It seems to me that one of the top priorities in dealing with the toxin 1,4-dioxane — apart from removing it from Long Island water — should be for consumers to stop using products with the chemical. Yet there is no such list with Newsday’s front-page story even though we have known about this contaminant for several years. Why? Are we afraid to hurt businesses? Additionally, we need a list of products that don’t have 1,4-dioxane in them — immediately.

It’s shocking that consumers are still in the dark on the good and the bad products. It’s shameful on your part as our main source of information.

Jane Thomas,

Port Washington

Improved public transportation key to a future, greener Long Island: Kaiman

Improved public transportation key to a future, greener Long Island: Kaiman

SOURCE: The Island Now


 Jed Hendrixson


February 19, 2019

The crowded hearing room at the Nassau County Legislature. (Photo by Jed Hendrixson)

Speakers and state senators alike talked about the importance of an efficient and comprehensive public transportation system for the future of Long Island at a crowded climate change hearing Friday in Mineola.

Suffolk County Deputy Executive and former North Hempstead Supervisor Jon Kaiman said that modernizing public transportation is crucial to cutting down Long Island’s greenhouse gas emissions generated by motorists.

Citizens Campaign for the Environment Executive Director Adrienne Esposito said the MTA, the parent of the Long Island Rail Road, “has a transit monopoly on the island, but has not been able to make it” a viable alternative for many commuters.

In 2014, New York was the ninth highest producer of carbon dioxide emissions nationally at 170 million metric tons, according to the EPA. A 2016 figure from the department attributed 28 percent of emissions to transportation.

Long Island’s bus and train systems are out of date and not marketed as a realistic choice of transportation for commuters who prefer their cars, according to Esposito.

Kaiman called for assistance from the state to incentivize the use of public transportation. The inadequate system that now exists, he said, results in hundreds of thousands of residents driving their own vehicles all over the island and increased greenhouse gas emissions.

Turning to the broader issue of climate change, Kaiman said the island has been subject to plenty of extreme weather events as a result of climate change like Superstorm Sandy, wildfires in the Pine Barrens and the hottest summers on record in recent years.

Kaiman also previously served as an adviser to Gov. Andrew Cuomo following the devastation that Superstorm Sandy delivered to Long Island’s shores.

“We no longer have the luxury of debating whether or not climate change is happening,” Kaiman said. 

From left: state Senator John Brooks, state Assemblyman Steve Englebright, state Senator Todd Kaminsky and state Senator Kevin Thomas. (Photo by Jed Hendrixson)

The three hearings, the first Feb. 12 in Albany and the second Feb. 14 in New York City, are a part of an effort to gauge public opinion on a proposed state bill dubbed the “Climate and Community Protection Act,” which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase the use of renewable energy resources in the state.

“With inaction in Washington, it is critical for us to take the bold steps necessary to protect our planet,” state Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach), chairman of the Environmental Conservation Committee, said. “These hearings are a critical step to determining how New York can lead in the fight against climate change.”

The legislation would take measures to make the state carbon-neutral by 2050, including emissions from cars, public transportation, homes and office building heating.

A conference room on the second floor of the Nassau County Legislature was packed with scientists, local officials and advocates for renewable energy resources. Many who spoke commended the panel of senators and assembly representatives that hosted the hearing for taking climate change seriously.

“Thank you for hosting a hearing on climate change on Long Island,” Esposito said to rousing applause from the room.

The hearings and the proposed bill gives residents hope and faith for a better tomorrow in working collaboratively to face the greatest challenge of our generation, Esposito said. 

The bill has been long supported by the state’s Democratic majority Assembly, but did not advance further in a Republican-controlled state senate. In November, Democrats seized control of both houses and since then the bill has gained traction.

The bill is not the only option, however.

In Cuomo’s State of the State address last month, he pledged to require 100 percent of the state’s electric generated from public utilities to come from renewable energy resources by 2040.

Cuomo’s pledge follows the state Public Service Commission’s Clean Energy Standard plan, which requires 50 percent of New York’s electricity to be produced from renewable energy sources like wind and solar by 2030 and will implement an aggressive phase-in schedule over the next several years, according to the governor’s website.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, greenhouse gas emissions from the production of electricity accounted for 28 percent of total emissions in 2016 nationally.

Esposito said she believes that aspects of both plans can be merged.

A hearing attendee, holding a sign calling for a more aggressive climate change proposal: 100 percent renewable energy resources by 2030. (Photo by Jed Hendrixson)

Setting a date for total emissions to eventually reach zero is prudent and important, according to Esposito. Other issues, she added, include educating the public on the benefits of action and dispelling myths regarding renewable energy resources, as well as devising an effective plan for public transportation on the island.

Climate change is very real and will make transitioning to renewable energy difficult, according to Paul Shepson, dean of the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University.

“It is a real threat to our society, our infrastructure and to the natural world and addressing this problem is one of the great challenges of the 21st century,” Shepson said. 

Asked by Kaminsky how serious an issue climate change is on a scale of one to 10, Shepson replied 10 and called it an “insidious, slow” problem. Moving toward renewable energy will be a decades-long, future investment, but will create new “green” jobs, he said.

“It will require investment, political will, hard work, determination and innovation,” Shepson said.

LI Residents Could Get Stuck With Big Bills To Pay For Drinking Water Cleanup

LI Residents Could Get Stuck With Big Bills To Pay For Drinking Water Cleanup


LONG ISLAND, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – $840 million.

That’s how much it could cost to clean up contaminated drinking wells on Long Island and water providers there 

 are warning residents – their water bills could double because of it.

“Not good. Not good at all. For what? Contaminated water?” Bethpage homeowner Zareh Andreas said.

New York State has ordered the chemical 1,4 Dioxane to be removed from drinking water. The compound is believed to be a likely human carcinogen associated with liver and kidney damage.

1,4 Dioxane has been detected in 70 percent of Long Island wells and could cost over $800 million to clean out.

Water providers are suing. Chemical manufacturers want more help from the government and a delay on enforcement standards.

“We estimate 185 wells in Nassau and Suffolk counties will have to worry about removing this contaminant,” Dennis Kelleher of H2M Engineers said.

MORE: Acting Head Of EPA Pressured To Look Into Threats Against Long Island Drinking Water

Water rates, without additional state help, could double in some water districts where multiple wells are contaminated.

“Why should I have to pay for it? It wasn’t me, whoever did it is responsible,” Kevin Kelly of Bethpage said.

“Absolutely I want it clean, we have children, we have lived here our whole lives,” Jennifer Kelly added.

The man-made chemical found in industrial solvents – like detergents and shampoos – is reportedly endangering Long Island’s fragile aquifer.

Manufacturers of 1,4 Dioxane should be held responsible and we agree they should pay, but where we draw the line is there should be no delay in cleaning up people’s drinking water,” Adrienne Esposito of Citizens Campaigning for the Environment argued.

The treatment is a high-tech process. Bethpage has a pilot system with a multi-million dollar reactor using ultra violet lamps.

It’s called advanced oxidation. What this uses is UV light and hydrogen peroxide,” Bethpage water district superintendent Michael Boufis explained.

If the state, the federal government, and manufacturers don’t help with the cost, experts predict taxes will go up and water rates will soar.

Water providers add they need three to five years to plan, design, and construct the treatment systems.

SCWA: Lengthen statute of limitations so polluters can pay for cleanup

Source: Newsday

SCWA: Lengthen statute of limitations so polluters can pay for cleanup

Exposure to PFOS and PFOA is tied to a variety of health problems, from cancer to elevated cholesterol, the EPA says. It calls 1,4 dioxane a likely human carcinogen.


Posted: February 15, 2019
Originally Published: February 14, 2019

Companies that polluted New York State’s drinking water with emerging contaminants could escape liability for huge clean-up costs unless the statute of limitations is lengthened, Suffolk County Water Authority’s general counsel said on Thursday.

And for capital projects, water districts should be freed from the 2 percent cap on property taxes, said Tim Hopkins, the authority’s general counsel, at the Long Island Drinking Water Quality Forum it hosted in Hauppauge.

Hopkins also noted that state grants from the Water Infrastructure Improvement Act should take into account the number of people a water supplier serves, so that each customer of a large agency does not receive far less than someone who gets their drinking water from a much smaller entity.

“We’re going to be shoveling against a tide,” said Paul Granger, the superintendent of the Port Washington Water District and a member of the advisory New York State Drinking Water Quality Council, describing the costs and burdens of tackling the three pollutants — perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS), perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and 1,4 dioxane.

The forum, a Long Island Water Conference event, was held the same day the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said that by the end of 2019 it will "propose a regulatory determination" for PFOS and PFOA, the next step in setting limits under the Safe Drinking Water Act. The EPA also could define them as hazardous substances, and it will issue interim groundwater cleanup recommendations.

The state Department of Health says it expects to issue recommendations in the coming months, triggering the public comment process.

Exposure to PFOS and PFOA is tied to a variety of health problems, from cancer to elevated cholesterol, the EPA says. It calls 1,4 dioxane a likely human carcinogen.

Most people, the EPA says, have been exposed to PFOS and PFOA because they were so common in consumer products, from detergent to cosmetics to pizza boxes. However, Long Islanders also can be exposed from well water drawn near industrial sites or where firefighting foam was used, at Gabreski Air National Guard Base, for example.

Both PFOA and PFOS were found in more than 150 private wells in Wainscott, near the East Hampton Airport. The third contaminant, 1,4 dioxane, has been found in 165 wells, experts said.

State Sen. James Gaughran (D-Northport) said there was bipartisan support for the statute of limitation bill that he helped devise while chairing the Suffolk County Water Authority.

The current deadline kicks in when the injury is found — or should have been uncovered, Hopkins said.

Instead, it should not start until a contaminant has been discovered at a level high enough to prompt notification, or at specified maximum levels, according to his presentation.

Further, the deadline should not start until “the last wrongful act of a person” who helped cause the pollution or the date when it last was detected in the raw water of a well or plant intake above specified levels, the presentation said.

The “clear majority” of the 89 public water entities that will need to treat 1,4 dioxane are located on Long Island, Granger said in his presentation, citing the state Department of Health.

That department now is weighing maximum contaminant levels: 10 parts per trillion for PFOA, 10 parts per trillion for PFOS, and one part per billion for 1,4 dioxane, he said.

The statewide price tag for dealing with PFOS, PFOA and 1,4 dioxane could exceed $1.5 billion for capital, and $75 million for annual operating costs, Granger said.

Critics have said both the state and the EPA have taken too long to regulate these hazards. Now, the federal government might be the laggard.

“The solution is simply setting a drinking water standard; New York State is well on its way. The EPA should be on its way,” Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, an advocacy group, told reporters after the EPA’s news conference in New York City.

With AP and Charles Eckert

Southampton Town adopts ban on plastic straws, stirrers and foam packaging

Source: Riverhead Local

Southampton Town adopts ban on plastic straws, stirrers and foam packaging


Posted: February 15, 2019
Originally Published: February 13, 2019

Food establishments in Southampton Town will soon be prohibited from offering customers plastic straws, stirrers and Styrofoam containers.

The Southampton Town Board yesterday unanimously adopted a code amendment to ban the products. The new law will take effect on May 8.

The new law, first proposed by Councilwoman Julie Lofstad, was recommended by the town’s sustainability committee which estimates that residents and visitors in the township discard nearly 20 million plastic straws and 8 million polystyrene cups per year — much of which washes up along the town’s beaches, according to town officials.

“This may be a small step but it’s a very important step,” Councilwoman Lofstad said in a press release. “Our environment is everything to us and anything we can do that’s not going to have harmful impacts on our businesses and residents is a no-brainer for me.”

The sustainability committee polled 85 food establishments and found 82 supported the ban, some had already stopped offering polystyrene “to-go” containers.

Under the law, restaurants will be permitted to keep a small number of plastic straws on hand for those with physical disabilities who require plastic straws.

Southampton Town banned single-use carryout bags in the town as of April 2015.

Neither Riverhead nor Southold town have adopted measures to restrict the distribution of single-use plastic and polystyrene items and plastic carryout bags. North Fork residents recently launched a public education and advocacy initiative to seek the adoption of such measures in Riverhead and Southold.

Suffolk County in 2016 adopted a law imposing a 5-cent fee on consumers who use single-use carryout bags. The measure, which took effect Jan. 1, 2018, greatly reduced their use in the county, according to the environmental advocacy group Citizens Campaign for the Environment, which conducted before and after surveys at grocery stores across Suffolk.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo last month announced his intention to seek legislation imposting a statewide ban on single-use plastic carryout bags.

Bag-ban advocates make their case at Westport beach

Source: CT Post

Bag-ban advocates make their case at Westport beach


Posted: February 11, 2019
Originally Published: February 9, 2019

State Sen. Will Haskel, State Rep. Tony Hwang and State Rep. Jonathan Steinberg tout a bill that would ban single-use plastic bags in CT Saturday, February 9, 2019, while Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe and

WESTPORT — Hoping to demonstrate a united front, a group of state legislators, local officials and environmental activists held a beach news conference Saturday afternoon focused on banning single-use plastic bags in Connecticut.

Westport was the first municipality in the state to do so, 10 years ago, and several involved with that fight, including state Rep. Jonathan Steinberg, D-Westport, spoke Saturday of its importance.

“People said it couldn’t be done, (but) the state can do it, too,” Steinberg said, noting the first bill aiming to do so was introduced eight years ago in Hartford.

Steinberg and state Sen. Will Haskell, D-Westport, along with state Rep. Kim Rose, D-Milford, have each introduced bills into the Legislature that, respectively, prohibit use and distribution of single-use plastic bags, promote the use of reusable bags, and establish fees on paper bags.

“Paper bags also have an adverse impact,” said Louis Burch, program director for Citizens Campaign for the Environment, noting the goal was to encourage people to bring their own reusable bags.

“It’s time now for our state government to follow Westport’s lead,” Haskell said, addressing around 60 people who endured icy winds to take part in the rally adjacent to the historic cannons at Compo Beach.

He said 18 billion pounds of plastic waste ends up in the world’s oceans every year, with only 5 percent ultimately recycled. “It’s time to reverse that trend,” he said.

“The next generation of voters has spoken loudly and clearly,” Haskell said.

“I can’t tell you how proud I am that Westport is actually the home of the plastic bag ordinance,” First Selectman Jim Marpe, a Republican, said.

“This is not a Republican or Democratic issue,” he said. “It’s a bipartisan issue.”

Liz Milwe, a District 1 member of Westport’s Representative Town Meeting, and who took part in the original plastic bag ban, said Greenwich, New Canaan, Norwalk, Stamford, and Weston have all recently passed local bans similar to Westport’s.

“We hope the whole state of Connecticut will join us,” she said.

Wayne Pesce, president of the Connecticut Food Association, which represents retail organizations, said his group was in agreement with the ban.

“Connecticut’s growing retail community fully supports this effort,” he said. “We want to be part of the solution.”

“I do believe it is important to bring all the shareholders into this dialogue,” noted State Sen. Tony Hwang, R-Fairfield, noting the manufacturing of the single-use bags was poor business.

“I’m fully supportive of (a statewide ban) ... for the environment, but for good business as well,” he said.

“We use these things for a minute or a second, and then they go in the seas, and they can be there for centuries,” state Rep. Gail Lavielle, R-Wilton, said. “That should tell us everything we need to know.”

But while she expressed her support for a ban, she said that, given the extreme state of the planet, it wasn’t enough.

“We have a major problem with lots of single-use plastic bottles,” she said, noting the market for plastic waste was diminishing.

“We’re going to have to learn to, A: limit it, and B: treat it in a more methodical way than we do,” Lavielle said.

“I think this is a good first step, but it’s not enough,” she said.

Bipartisan lawmakers stand behind state plastic bag ban

Source: News 12 Connecticut

Bipartisan lawmakers stand behind state plastic bag ban

Posted: February 11, 2019
Originally Published: February 9, 2019

WESTPORT - Several elected officials came together across party lines Saturday at Compo Beach to discuss the importance of a statewide single-use plastic bag ban and to draw attention to the issue.

Later this month, the Westport will be celebrating 10 years without single-use plastic bags.

"It's time now for our state government to follow Westport's lead,” says state Sen. Will Haskell. “Westport has shown over the last 10 years that we can change consumer behavior."

Dozens of supporters were also at Compo Beach – many left with brand new reusable bags that officials are encouraging everyone to use.

"It's not enough to simply ban plastic bags, paper bags also have adverse environmental impacts and they take up unnecessary space in our waste stream," says Louis Burch, of the Citizen's Campaign.

In early January, Big Y, which has 30 stores across the state, announced they would phase out plastic bags by 2020.

Management says their ban will ensure that 100 million bags, that are used annually, will not impact the environment.

Greenwich, Norwalk, Stamford, Weston and most recently New Canaan each have bans in place. Lawmakers say in order to preserve the Long Island Sound and the greater environment, a statewide ban is vital.

Watch the video.