Norlite Burns Toxic Waste; Dims Upstate Community

The toxicity in the cities often goes unspoken. For instance, everyone knows that if you go to New York City where nearly 10 million people inhabit space you might run into some putrid smells from block to block. Temporarily, the pungent stench wafts across the way and that brief unpleasantry concludes. 

You cannot see, hear, taste or smell radiation. What differentiates this Upstate NY Waste case from the others deals with the type of toxic materials being incinerated. Between environmentalists and reduction companies the age-old debate rages on about whether incineration is the best method of disposal. 

Let’s leave that aside for a second because NORLITE EMISSIONS often burn forever chemicals without decomposition. They violate the Department of Environmental Conservation stringent air pollution regulations and their hazardous waste permit has expired. Yet, they remain operational as executives from their camp have acknowledged DEC provisions yet do not believe the waste is harmful.

“This is a World Health Organization grade one carcinogen, unequivocally a carcinogen, leaving Norlite’s site for decades. The dust mitigation strategies that they’ve put in place have failed. They’ve been asked to cease and desist if they can’t come up with a more effective dust mitigation strategy. And I think they’re past the 60-day mark that they were given by the DEC to do that.” 

Christopher Sevinsky, Lights Out Norlite

An issue that remains unsolved is the topic of proper methods for complete and total destruction. There is a heavy lack of research surrounding “oxidative temperature conditions representative of field-scale incineration.” (EPA)

All signs point to a lack of knowledge surrounding proper ways to dispose of PFAS. Much of the backlash with Norlite stems from burning 2.4M lbs of firefighting foam (AFFF) between 2018 and 2020 without a permit. The main reason I do not take issue with this portion of the operation is twofold:

  1. Norlite entered a contractual agreement with the Department of Defense to import waste from military sites
  2. Is there a better way to get rid of PFAS?

Glaringly, Norlite and the DEC have exhibited a lack of transparency. Rather than an internal watchdog, many people have begun to question if the DEC and Norlite are in cahoots?

There is a fundamental disagreement from the likes of Norlite that their massive piles of silicone dust are causing harm to nearby residents. While the majority of their actions and statements reflect cooperation with the DEC, there is always a tinge of denial. 

Their officials do not believe this to be a health issue to the 70 lower income housing residents of Saratoga Sites. Instead, Norlite deflects toward matters such as a ProPublica map that shows Hoosick Falls has the only toxic hotspot within the area. 

While sanctioned blood tests on residents were never performed, it begs the question – can the SSANE convince all residents to perform blood tests to prove adverse effects? 

Sidebar: Obsession with trivial matters will plague us ! How does the SSANE Facebook page^ only have 113 likes?!

While the hearsay and lip service exclaims progress toward zero fugitive dust emissions the harmful disregard for human life are cut & dry. 

On the state’s public list of reported spills or complaints Norlite caused 30 out of 44 incidents reported between June 2020 and June 2021.

As per geologist David Walker, Norlite’s large piles of crushed aggregate shale cause silicosis and cancer. It has been adversely affecting the quality of human life for the better part of 4 years now. 

“This is an important environmental justice issue. The incinerator operates in the middle of a city and next to public housing apartments where 70 families live. If it were a more affluent area, it would have been shut down a long time ago.”

Judith Enck former regional admin @ USA EPA

The issue is twofold in the sense that Improper destruction of waste leads to violations and they compound the mistake with refusal to address the issue. 

This calls for concern and demands transparency from the likes of Norlite and the DEC in unison. Some are even calling for shutdown – there should at least be some sort of closing and reinvigoration. 

This is not Norlite’s first offense – in the past they have been responsible for mismanagement of pollution sensors and chemical irritant leaks. Recently, their incinerator caught on fire and spread toxic chemicals throughout the region at an accelerated rate. Although the fire was quickly contained how long until the entire operation explodes and leaves more than just residents within radius at risk?

At Fresh News Now, we do our best to lay out the facts first and let you make the final decision. All art is interpretative and if it is worthwhile, it is provocative.

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