“Read damage was done here,” says Governor Andrew Cuomo of discharge incident
A News Commentary by Doug Draper
Posted September 14th, 2017 on Niagara At Large
New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo has always seemed like the type of non-sense guy you wouldn’t want to do something that gets him upset with you.
And he certainly proved that to be the case this September 14th when he made a trip to Niagara Falls, N.Y. to let those responsible for operating that city’s wastewater treatment plant how he feels about what a shabby job he feels they did on the last Saturday of this past July when a large, inky looking and foul-smelling blob of pollution entered the Niagara River from their plant, just downstream from the American and Horseshoe Falls were countless thousands of tourists could see and smell it.
For that discharge and other recent ones the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation has records of entering the river from the city’s plant, Cuomo, as The Buffalo News reported in a story published this September 15th, cited the Niagara Falls, N.Y. Water Board for a “’lack of training, lack of systems, lack of processes’, and he called the board’s operational violations ‘inexcusable’.”
Along with those scathing words, the state has slapped the city’s Water Board with a $50,000 fine and, among other things, has ordered retraining for the plant’s employees and ordered its operators to sign an agreement to fix any and all problems at the plant.
“Real damage was done here,” the governor was quoted saying in his scolding remarks to city officials, adding that state’s environmental department is keeping a closer watch because it “is not trusting them to do any more discharges on their own.”
“This had nothing to do with the condition of the plant,” Cuomo added. “To say, ‘This is an old plant,’ is baloney. This was operator error.”
What is not yet known, from a larger Great Lakes ecosystem point of view, is exactly what contaminants were in the discharges from the plant and how much of an impact they may have had on the quality of water and health of fish and other wildlife downstream in the Niagara River and Lake Ontario.
The Niagara Falls, New York plant was built in the 1970s to receive and treat effluent, not only from domestic sources in the city, but from large industries, including nearby chemical manufacturers.
At one time, when a special set of carbon beds at the plant, installed to filter out hazardous contaminants in chemical industry effluent, brock down in the late 1970s and early to mid-1980s, the plant was identified by U.S. and Canadian environment agencies as one of the single worst point source discharges of manmade poison to Great Lakes waters downstream.
In the days following this past July’s discharges of pollution from the plant, Niagara Falls, Ontario MPP Wayne Gates called on the Ontario Ministry of Environment to become more involved in working with its state counterparts in addressing the problem. But little has been heard from the provincial ministry other than a communications officer telling the media it is a matter for authorities on the U.S. side of the border.
To read the latest story in The Buffalo News on this issue and the New York governor’s most recent response to it, click on – http://buffalonews.com/2017/09/14/cuomo-calls-wastewater-discharges-overflows-falls-inexcusable/ .
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