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The Altamont enterprise and Albany County post. (Altamont, N.Y.) 2006-current, December 25, 2008, Image 2

Image and text provided by Guilderland Public Library

Persistent link: http://dev.nyshistoricnewspapers.org/lccn/2006245259/2008-12-25/ed-1/seq-2/


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' TheAltamoniWn*erpti»e.-jthuj»d^ Editorial a i You can make a difference. We know during the holidays you're busy, too busy, wrapping packages and baking cookies. Put down your scissors, put down your rolling;pin. Pick up ^pur pen. It's mightier than, the sword. And the battle is for a healthyfuture for yPurtoWriV For more than a decade, we've written about pollutants left behind on land in Guilderland andNeW Scotland, land where the Army ran a depot from 1941 to 10(89. The depot w$s set up as a storage center for the military during W^rld War H and once covered 650 acres. Most of it now belongs to the Northeastern Industrial Park. The old depot site is near the Blacl^ Creek, which feeds the Wa- tervliet Reservoir, Guilderiand's major source of drinking water. Indeed, the Army diverted the creek into two halves > and sent waste into the creek prburiied it nearby. Earlier this month, officials from the Army Corps of Engi- neers state agencies as well as a cadre of dedicated citizens, members of the Restoration Advisory Board, met to discuss Area of Concern 1,' which has the highest concentration of health risks of the nine areas identified by the corps. An Army landfill there has contaminated a^groundwa- ter plume with volatile organic compounds, according to an engineer reporting to the board. Such compounds are emitted.'as gases from some solids or liquids; the chemicals evaporate easily at room temperature and are common groundwater contaminants. Between the landfill and a nearby pond that has con- taminants, the engineer said.* the water is dangerous to drink, although neither are a source for drinking water and the engineer felt confident the heavy metals aren't going to move anywhere. The pond is about 1,500 feet from the main channel of the Black Creek, which feeds the Watervhet Reser- voir. Chemicals are far more mobile than metals ap.d so pose more of a risk, according to a representa-^ , tive from the state's Department of Environmental Conservation. We're pleased that the corps has recommended the most thorough of four options for containing the chemicals, which includes a landfill cap and soil cover, chemical oxidation treatment of the groundwater, carbon treatment of surface water, and land-use controls. The problem comes with the cost, which is estimated at $3 million. The money for cleanup comes from the for Formerly Used Defense Site program, which is scandalously under funded. \We have a 100-year backlog worth of work,\ Gregory Goepfert, the project manager for the corps, told us last year. \With $600 million worth of work that we know of, we get about five million dollars a year to work with,\ he said of funds for similar sites all across NeW York and New Jersey. The government polluted these areas; it should pay to clean them. The United States created nine polluted sites now labeled areas of concern in our backyard and each one of them should be cleaned. If the United States can spend billions of dollars to try to set aright a country it invaded, it ought to be able to spend millions to clean up the mess the Army left behind in our own country de- cades ago. ''•• Jfspe£klng;put : JOT* Phe area of cpncefn can; get 3 results,: spP'-caiii speaking Put on others; Federal,ftinds of $650^000 were secured two years agp to clean tp^c vra#e;from one pf tjie areas,of concerja; ipn a parcel riow pri- vately owned by J<Jto B^rn& k She ahpVher l^^t^f>$Lhd bPught their dream hp^e'in the cp^ 1943, The dream turned to a nightmare. Tfhey had; hot been told about Army wa^te buried there and suffered \it lot of health problems\ that she believes are associated •with the waste. •.:. Herhusband died of cancer in i995;\He wasi the one out on the land * she said. Her horses died of caricer, top. Spvpn years agbjfrusfe lof\funds for testing, we put on tall rubber boots aihd rubber gloves, and, undei\ the direction of Peter Buttner, then chair of'theRestoration^^ Advisory Boards We scooped up samples of the bottles that were surfacing throughout the defoliated areas of Burris's property. We were back in 2004 at the invitation of the current co-chair of the advisory board, fhadeus Ausfeld. We watched him poke at bright green baseball^sized masses recently Uncpvefed oh Burns's property^ and We Wrote abput her plight yet again, We were gratified to hear last year, both from Burns and from the Army Corps' project manager, Gregory Goepfert, that Enterprise editorials and hews stories were part of the reason federal funds were secured. \We're wpefuHyunder fnnd;ed,\G6epfe#tpldusthen. Those Were the very same words We heard years be- fore from Senato* Hillary Clinton when we asked her about depot cleanup. \We're woefully under funded,\ the Senator said, While noting the deteriorating state of clean water nation-wide. \When 1 go to funding sponsors and say, 'There's a high level of public interest,' that helps, no doubt about it,\ said Goepfert of securing funds for cleanup projects in our backyard. v: So pick up your peri. Dec. 27 is the official due date for public comments on the cleanup method, but Goepfert said he would accept anything that he receives before Jan.9. Detailed information on the project and contact information to subriiit comments can be found online at www.fsadva . com, which stands for Former Schenectady Army Depot — Voorheesville Area. Copies of the study are available at the public libraries in Guilderland andVoorheesville. Comments may be addressed to: Gregory Goep- fert, Project Manager, United States Army Corps of Engineers, New York District, CENAN-PP-E, Room 1811,26 Federal Plaza, New York, NY 10278. \You've got to respond to this guy now,\ said Aus- feld at the December meeting. He operated the town of Guilderiand's water plant for years and co-chairs the RestoratiPn Advisory Board with Charles Rielly. \This is what we've worked for the last 10 or 12 years,\ said Ausfeld. Let's help that work come to fruition. As citizens in a deihpcracy* we are responsible for what our govern- ment does or does not do, Take a stand today for a cleaner tomorrow. — Melissa Hale-Spencer xi-i.W-i-f., ,-,

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