By Melanie Lekocevic
Capital Region Independent Media
RAVENA — Mayor Bill Misuraca is considering getting a second opinion on what the gritty substance was that coated areas of the village in late November.
Samples were taken from Magnolia Circle after the most recent dusting and state Department of Environmental Conservation laboratory testing identified the substance as salt but could not specify where the dust came from.
The mayor said he would like to get confirmation from another testing source to confirm what the substance is. The samples tested by DEC were only collected at Magnolia Circle, but the dusting event was widespread, he said.
“This was a villagewide event as far up as northern [Route] 9W all the way down to Magnolia Circle and every neighborhood in between,” Misuraca said. “Could some of it have been salt? Absolutely, clearly from the analysis — that’s what it says. In other instances, I’m not so sure. So the next time this happens, I will probably recommend that the village bring in another — and I’m not saying anything is wrong with DEC’s analysis — but I would love a second opinion because this is an important issue.”
The health implications are concerning, he added.
“Yes, it’s unfortunate that it covers our vehicles. I am more concerned about what we are breathing in,” Misuraca said. “Why are we breathing in salt, or whatever this other substance may be? It’s ongoing, so I just want everyone to know it is not over just because we got a letter. Be diligent, keep your eyes open. I am still here and I am going to work on this. It is a top priority for me.”
Quick notification to state or local officials would lead to faster testing and more definitive results, Misuraca said.
Both village and town officials are urging residents to contact local officials or the DEC at 518-357-2345 if a similar event takes place again. Complaints can also be emailed to DEC Region 4 Pollution Control Engineer Benjamin Potter at Benjamin.Potter@dec.ny.gov.
“Don’t call me a week after it happens, don’t stop me at True Value,” Misuraca said. “When it happens, call me, call this number because time is of the essence when this occurs. Having accurate timetables gives you a cleaner sample, gives you a more reliable sample and also helps establish what the wind patterns were. They can correlate it with other events that may have occurred at certain industrial parts of the village.”
Timely reporting of dusting incidents is critical to identifying the source, the mayor added.
“I get a lot of ‘after-the-fact,’ and it is not helping, so please call me immediately,” Misuraca said.
Town Supervisor George McHugh also addressed the issue at the town board’s Nov. 22 meeting and urged quick action in reporting future dusting incidents so the source of the substance can be identified.
“They can’t tell where this dust came from. They are not going to be able to tell where this dust came from and they are hoping that it doesn’t happen again, but if it does happen again, for the complaints to come in a little quicker and get to DEC a little quicker,” McHugh said.
While the source of the gritty dust that settled over the village in October has not been identified, McHugh said he met in November with both DEC and representatives from the Lafarge cement plant about the issue. DEC officials told McHugh the test results were inconclusive.
“There is nothing definitive,” McHugh said. “They blamed it on the fact that they were notified too far after the incident and that the samples that they took were very inconclusive and couldn’t really say exactly where they came from, what the origin was.”
It remains unclear where the substance originated, but Lafarge provided McHugh with a statement about the incident.
“We appreciate the cooperation we have received from residents and state and local officials to review the origin of materials found on cars and other private property in the past several weeks,” according to the Lafarge statement. “Based on our continuous emissions monitoring system at the Lafarge Ravena plant, there have been no irregular operations or permit exceedances that correspond with the state report to us so far. It is our understanding that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has collected and tested the material recorded in the Ravena area. We are cooperating fully with their investigation and we hope the results will help shed light on the type of material and its possible source. By all accounts this situation is different from past events.”
In a letter from Lafarge Plant Manager Dave MacLauchlin to McHugh, the company states the complaint process has been fine tuned.
Anyone looking to file a complaint about the plant should visit lafargeravenaconnect.com or email Ravena@lafargeholcim.com, according to the letter. You can also call the company at 518-756-5026 or 1-844-332-3267.