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Post date: October 18 2007

Attorney General Cuomo Announces Settlement With Owner Of Illegal Broome County Mine

BINGHAMTON, NY (October 18, 2007) - Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a settlement with the owner of an illegal Broome County bluestone mine, requiring the owner to fully comply with state environmental protection laws and pay a penalty of up to $40,000.

“Mines must follow strict protocol to ensure safety and environmental stability,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “The Department of Environmental Conservation and my office continue to work together and share resources to make sure that New York’s mines operate in a safe and responsible manner. Our state’s environmental laws exist for a reason, and my office stands ready to enforce them against those who choose to flout them in order to cut corners.”

Herbert Kilmer, of Montrose, P.A., operated a bluestone mine in the Broome County town of Sanford without the required Mined Land Reclamation Permit per New York State’s environmental protection laws. These permits are critical as they ensure that Department of Environmental Conservation-approved land use and reclamation plans - as well as the finances to implement reclamation - are in place.

Bluestone mining produces stone popular for a variety of uses in construction including stair steps, fixtures, countertops, tabletops, as well as flagstone for sidewalks, walkways and patios. However, it requires extensive excavation using heavy equipment, and if unregulated, can pollute water and air resources and leave an open pit and badly scarred land.

Under the settlement announced today, Kilmer is required to pay a $25,000 penalty to the state. In order for him to re-commence mining at the site, he must receive the required DEC permit and pay an additional $15,000 in penalties within one year of receiving the permit. Even if Kilmer does not re-commence mining at the site, he is required to implement necessary environmental protections, including reclamation of the land affected by previous mining.

DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis said, “The settlement of this case validates the effort made by a dedicated team of DEC staff working with the Attorney General's Office to ensure environmental protection. Forest Rangers, Environmental Conservation Police, Minerals Resources experts and DEC enforcement attorneys persisted in the enforcement of the state mining laws to stop a substantial violation. Justice has been served by removing the profit made from avoiding environmental laws and requiring compliance that levels the playing field for a regulated industry.”

“This settlement holds the owner of the mine accountable for years of abuse of environmental protections,” said Executive Deputy Attorney General for Social Justice Mylan L. Denerstein. “The Attorney General’s Office is committed to enforcing New York’s environmental laws, including those in regard to permitting of landscape-altering mining.”

The Office of the Attorney General initiated action against the mine’s illegal operation June 1, 1998 and received a court injunction prohibiting Kilmer from conducting further mining activities at the site. The injunction remains in effect until he secures the required mining permit. Attorney General Cuomo is actively ensuring that the environmental and landowner issues associated with mining and oil and gas drilling in the Southern Tier are addressed and that these activities are conducted in compliance with state law.

Today’s announcement in Binghamton is one example of Attorney General Cuomo’s commitment to resolving issues impacting Binghamton and the Southern Tier. Just six weeks ago, on September 6, Attorney General Cuomo and his entire executive team were in the region to learn about the challenges facing the community and identify solutions. Among topics discussed were health care, Medicaid fraud, consumer fraud, student loans and environmental issues such as mining.

The case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Joseph Koczaja under the supervision of John Sipos of the Attorney General’s Environmental Protection Bureau, which is overseen by Special Deputy Attorney General Katherine Kennedy and Executive Deputy Attorney General Mylan Denerstein.