VALATIE–The Valatie Village Board adopted a resolution Tuesday night calling for the federal Environmental Protection Agency, the state Department of Environmental Commission “and the polluting companies to stop further contamination of the Dewey Loeffel site in the Town of Nassau, and to remediate such site in the most expedited and safest methodology presently available.”
All three board members at the meeting–Trustee Phil Bickerton was absent–and Mayor Diane Argyle voted in favor of the motion that also calls for supporting the Town of Nassau, UNCAGED (United Neighbors Concerned about General Electric and the Dewey Loeffel Landfill) and the EPA in their efforts to clean up the Superfund Site, where toxic industrial waste was dumped by several companies for nearly 20 years starting in the 1950s.
Water and other fluids from the site are being treated at a new plant in Nassau, and since mid-January several thousand gallons of treated water have been released into the nearby Valatie Kill. Mayor Argyle said that the EPA never contacted her about releasing the water into the stream, which flows through the village after passing through Kinderhook Lake.
But after she appeared on a local radio show, she said, she got a call from the EPA. “I agreed that they are doing a much better job,” she said of the EPA, but she was frustrated the agency would not meet with Columbia County residents about the water. On Wednesday, the day after the Village Board meeting, the EPA emailed The Columbia Paper to say another the water in a 20,000-gallon tank had been tested and was being released into the Valatie Kill. Treated water from a total of four tanks, each with 20,000-gallon capacity, has been released since January. Tests ordered by the EPA show the water meets current safety standards.
Trustee Frank Bevens asked that the motion be amended to request that the EPA hold a meeting in the county, but the board later decided to write a separate letter addressing that matter.
“I think we got railroaded,” Mr. Bevens said of the EPA’s decision to release the water without contacting the village.
Trustee Angelo Nero asked Village Attorney Robert Fitzsimmons whether there is any legal action the village could take to halt the water releases.
“That is a rather large undertaking,” Mr. Fitzsimmons said of taking action against the federal government.
The mayor said that the presence of the Superfund toxic waste site in a neighboring town has already affected the water in nearby Kinderhook Lake, which is fed by the Valatie Kill. “Columbia County residents have known for years that you can’t eat the fish out of the Kinderhook Lake,” she said due to PCB contamination.
Trustee Bevens also criticized the EPA for not making what he believes are definitive statements about whether the treated water could affect village wells.
The mayor said the village plans to build a filtration system for the wells to protect the village drinking water supply from biological pollution carried by Kinderhook Creek. She said the filtration system would not remove potentially harmful chemicals that might be in the water. “Are they testing for everything under the sun?” she asked.
The mayor told the board that the county Environmental Management Council chairman, Ed Simonsen, was talking with the EPA and would keep on the federal agency for answers. The board will send the resolution to the EPA.
Also at the meeting the board:
•Agreed to send a warning letter to property owners who do not clear their sidewalks within 48 hours after a snowstorm so that the owners can be fined up to $250 under local law. The board also discussed giving out tickets to residents who park on Main Street overnight from November to March. A committee was appointed to look into fines for village parking tickets
•Heard that village elections will be held March 18 from noon to 9 p.m. at the Martin H. Glynn Building. Trustees Nero and Dave Williams are running unopposed to reelection
•Tabled a request to use the Glynn Building for meetings by the Tri-Village Senior group. Mayor Argyle said the group rejected her offer to use the Village Senior Center. She will reach out to the group again about the using the building on Church Street, which is already used for senior activities
•Learned that the town and village have agreed to hire Cruz Rivera Baez as the custodian for the Glynn Building at $13 an hour for 25 hours a week, no benefits. The town will pay 62% and the village will pay 38% of Mr. Rivera Baez’s salary. The town and village split all building expenses
•Set a budget meeting for Thursday, February 27 at 6 p.m. in the Glynn Building.
The next regular board meeting will be Tuesday, March 11at 7 p.m. in the Glynn Building.
To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email .