In This Post:
- Recent Alerts from the NYS Department of Conservation (DEC)
- Making Use of the NYSDEC Website
If you’re interested in local environmental news, here’s a sampling of alerts and bulletins I recently received through DEC Delivers that will give you some idea of this email service’s potential value. As mentioned in an earlier post, I highly recommend subscribing, particularly now that the EPA and other federal agencies have been handed over to thieves and scoundrels. Plugging in to the information made available by state agencies such as the DEC will be more important than ever in the fight to protect our environment and our health.
Alerts and Bulletins listed below:
- Rockland Psychiatric Center Brownfield Cleanup
- Public Notice: Draft of Piermont Marsh Reserve Management Plan
- Hudson RiverNet / News from the Hudson River Estuary Program
Following these items, I’ll post some details about the DEC website, with links to features such as the contaminated site database search that you might find interesting and useful.
Alerts and Bulletins From the NYSDEC / January
1. Brownfield Cleanup of the Rockland Psychiatric Center (RPC) in Orangetown.
Last week there was an alert about a cleanup at the RPC that’s now underway. The email contained a link to this document, A Fact sheet on the RPC cleanup (PDF) which gives a brief history of the site, summary of known hazards, and a description of the work being done. If you’ve been through Orangetown recently, then this might be the explanation for any abundance of construction vehicles and extra traffic you may have noticed.
This past Wednesday I decided to visit the RPC site and see it for myself. The scale of the project, the number of buildings involved, and the state of their decay made an impression.
To add some context to the photos, here are a few excerpts from the Fact Sheet:
32 abandoned and derelict buildings containing over 1.1 million square feet . . . distributed across 61 acres. . .
Site Environmental Assessment:
After 25 years of lying vacant, the painted exterior building surfaces, including windows, railings, staircases, doorways and grates, have significantly deteriorated resulting in contamination of surficial soils around Site buildings primarily by lead. Basement rooms in many Site buildings contain old and leaking transformers with evidence of releases adjacent to floor drains. Many of the buildings contain extensive amounts of asbestos containing material in poor condition and there are reportedly seven unidentified underground storage tanks on the Site.
— Excavation of the approximately upper one foot of soil and asphalt, which will be disposed of off-site.
— Excavation to construct a temporary storm water detention basin.
— During excavations, a community air monitoring plan, and stormwater pollution prevention measures will be implemented.
—Demolition of buildings, underground tunnels, concrete sidewalks and roadways.
Surface soils adjacent to Site buildings contain elevated concentrations of a number of metals including lead, barium and copper. PCBs, semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs) and pesticides were detected in site soils, . .
Additional site information from the DEC database:
Site Record for RPC – Core Area. Site Code C344080
(See the section, “The NYSDEC Website” at the bottom of this post for information on how to access site databases.)
2. Public Notice: Draft Piermont Marsh Reserve Management Plan
Public comments are being accepted on the Draft Piermont Marsh Reserve Management Plan, which will guide management of the Piermont Marsh Reserve (the Reserve) for the next 10 years. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC) will consider all public comments as it finalizes the management plan. Located in southern Rockland County, the Reserve’s 1,030 acres include the Hudson River estuary’s largest brackish tidal marsh, a broad swath of adjacent shallows, and small areas of upland in the Village of Piermont.
A public meeting will be held on Monday, February 5th, 2018 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the Piermont Village Hall, 478 Piermont Avenue, Piermont, New York to provide information about the draft plan and solicit comments.
About the Piermont Marsh
Draft Piermont Marsh Reserve Management Plan (PDF)
3. Hudson RiverNet
News from the Hudson River Estuary Program
2017 marked the 30th year of the Hudson River Estuary Program. Read about the steps DEC and its partners are taking to ensure a clean, accessible, and inviting river for those who live and work along its waters and its estuary communities. The 2017 Hudson River Estuary Coordinator’s Report is now available.
The NYSDEC Website
The information posted below was selected to accompany the RPC brownfield cleanup info, so it deals with contaminated sites for the most part. I’m leaving out about nine-tenths of what’s on the full DEC Website: climate change, invasive species, regulation, recreation, and more.
I should mention that (IMHO) their website could be better organized. I recommend doing a lot of bookmarking or copying of page addresses if you do much exploratory surfing, since they don’t seem to have a comprehensive site map. (They have a Using the DEC Website page, but knowing where menus are doesn’t help much when there’s lots of stuff inconsistently listed or missing. Sorry, DEC webguys.)
For most of us, this will probably be the most useful and important feature. You can sign up to receive email news and alerts on a ton of recreational and environmental topics of your choice: serious stuff for activists such as the ENB, Contaminated Site Alerts, and regulation changes; or more fun and recreational stuff like hiking trail conditions, how-to seminars, or perhaps the newsletter Hudson River Almanac, which I enjoy for it’s coverage of birds, wildlife, scientific studies, and assorted cultural and educational events.
Environmental News Bulletin (ENB)
The ENB is a compilation of permit applications, notices of environmental impact statement releases, public hearing notices, and other official announcements, and is the best way to find out what’s happening now, or what will be in the near future. ENBs are published every Wednesday, and you can choose to receive notifications via ‘DEC Delivers’ each week when the new one is posted; or, if you’re allergic to email, simply visit the ENB page anytime you feel the need to check up on things.
Here are a few links you’ll need in order to understand what’s in the ENB:
How to Use the ENB
Introduction to SEQR
State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (SPDES) Permit Program
Contaminated Site Alerts
Visit the link above for instructions on how to receive alerts such as the one for the cleanup at the Rockland Psychiatric Center. To understand site details, you’ll need to review some of the essential information found in the pages listed below. As I mentioned, the DEC website is a little chaotic in places, but you should be able to find answers to most questions somewhere in these pages:
Environmental Cleanup & Brownfields
State Superfund Sites
Environmental Site Database Search
To show the usefulness of the data search, the table below is from a search for NYS Superfund sites in Rockland with a site classification of 02, which are dangerous sites. From the ‘Site Classifications’ page:
Classification Code: 2
a. The disposal of hazardous waste has been confirmed and the presence of such hazardous waste or its components or breakdown products represents a significant threat to public health or the environment: – or –
b. hazardous waste disposal has not been confirmed, but the site has been listed on the Federal National Priorities List (NPL).
The really fun part now will be going back to the search page, plugging in the site codes, and learning all the gruesome details about each of these sites.
Public Involvement and News Page is an OK starting point for visitors looking to engage in something productive. You’ll find links to news and events, ‘Green Living’ tips, Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) info, grant programs, environmental education and activities for kids, and whatnot.
The Citizen Participation Page has links to more useful stuff, such as community involvement programs, and the Citizens Handbook (PDF). The 57p. handbook covers how citizens can monitor environmental remediation sites and activities, and outlines how the bureaucratic process works. This isn’t light reading, but if you know about this handbook, and maybe download a copy to keep handy, it could be a “Break-Glass-in-Case-of” item if ever there’s an environmental issue that affects you directly, or there’s an issue you really want to take on in a serious manner.
— Christopher Johnson.