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For Release: Tuesday, February 15, 2022

DEC Orders Norlite Facility in City of Cohoes to Immediately Cease and Desist from Activities Resulting in Off-Site Dust

DEC Announces New Enforcement Action to Address Violations

New Report Links Off-Site Dust to Norlite's Operations

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced that DEC is ordering the Norlite facility in the city of Cohoes to immediately cease and desist off-site dust impacts as documented in the agency's new report released today. Based on the findings of a comprehensive analysis of fugitive dust monitoring that directly links dust impacting neighboring properties to Norlite's operations, DEC is requiring new corrective actions to protect area air quality. This week, DEC issued a Notice of Violation that requires the facility to immediately cease and desist actions resulting in dust leaving the property, in addition to other facility operation improvements and enhancements to address these serious and preventable violations.

"Norlite continues to show a blatant disregard for the surrounding community by allowing dust to blow off their property, and if they do not address these violations, the state of New York will do everything in its power to shut them down," Commissioner Seggos. "This cannot continue and we are working on multiple legal fronts to stop these violations and require necessary facility upgrades to prevent any future impacts to the people of Cohoes."

DEC initiated a comprehensive study of off-site dust in Spring 2021, following concerns expressed by residents of the Saratoga Sites apartment complex, as well as other Norlite facility neighbors. The study was designed to characterize the larger particle sizes found in the Saratoga Sites community by sampling at two locations for particulate matter 10 microns or less in size (PM10) and PM10 silica, perform total suspended particles microscopy, and conduct one-hour monitoring of particles 2.5 microns or less in size (PM2.5). To collect additional data, in August a continuous PM10 analyzer was added to the south monitoring location at Saratoga Sites.

Results of the interim study show that dust particles larger than PM2.5 from the Norlite facility are migrating to the Saratoga Sites property. The data show that dust particle plume events usually occur in short, one- to four-hour intervals at levels higher than observed by DEC air monitors in downtown Albany during the same hours and demonstrate that Norlite has been violating DEC's stringent air pollution control regulations and permit conditions.

DEC's comprehensive analysis shows positive matches to Norlite source material for every filter that underwent microscopic analysis to date. Twenty-four-hour PM10 data also shows that readings at the south part of Norlite's property, adjacent to Saratoga Sites and where shale processing and storage takes place, are significantly higher than on the north side of the property, reinforcing DEC's determination that Norlite's aggregate processing is a source of the dust.

The full Fugitive Dust Monitoring Interim Report and a new Community Update can be found on DEC's Norlite webpage.

On Feb. 7, DEC issued the latest Notice of Violation for fugitive dust demonstrably leaving the Norlite property and the air contaminants, including silica, that are blowing off-site and onto neighboring residential properties. DEC is requiring Norlite to immediately cease and desist from any activity resulting in fugitive dust leaving the Norlite property, including but not limited to dust from aggregate and product piles. DEC is also requiring Norlite to develop a comprehensive plan to contain dust sources to prevent it from leaving the site. Penalties for the violations identified in this Notice of Violation could rise to hundreds of thousands of dollars, ranging up to $22,500 for each day the violations continue, exclusive of penalties for potential additional violations that DEC continues to investigate.

DEC is requiring Norlite to:

  • Submit a plan to DEC within 60 days for the construction and operation of enclosure structures or similar protection for areas where aggregate and shale storage, processing, and conveying takes place, and sealing additional equipment to prevent potential dust releases.
  • Install and operate new off-site air monitoring equipment along the eastern property line of the Norlite property pursuant to DEC and New York State Department of Health (DOH) specifications.
  • Increase recording, reporting, and training requirements regarding fugitive dust.
  • Install weather equipment and conduct daily observations for any particulate impacts at Saratoga Sites. If any impact is observed, the facility will be required to undertake additional corrective action.

DEC continues to work closely with DOH to assess potential community impacts. In addition, DEC continues to work with the Office of the Attorney General to investigate these violations and related concerns.

DEC encourages area residents to immediately call both Norlite and DEC's Spill Hotline to report significant odors, dust, or other concerns related to the Norlite facility. Reporting complaints in real time is key to immediately alerting appropriate DEC staff to respond on-site and take appropriate action, as well as to create a record of the complaint with the facility. To make a complaint, contact Norlite's 24-hour phone line at 518-235-0401, the 24-hour DEC Spill Hotline at 1-800-457-7362, and email with any additional information, including photos, videos, or other supplemental data to assist in ongoing investigations.

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