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Post date: July 18 2007

Cuomo Announces 5 Major Water Pollution Settlements: Over $8 Million To Be Used For Water Protection

NEW YORK, NY (July 18, 2007) - In the latest in a series of major environmental initiatives, Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced over $8 million in 5 major settlements involving the protection of New York's streams, rivers and wetlands. A majority of these funds will be used to protect the Bronx River from future water pollution and to expand an environmental education program. The settlements are part of Attorney General Cuomo's ongoing statewide environmental protection initiatives.

"To protect the health and safety of the hundreds of people who use the Bronx River every year, we need to keep pollution out of the water," said Attorney General Cuomo. "The millions of dollars secured in these settlements will help to heal the damage already done, and will serve as a reminder that no one can afford to violate environmental standards."

Today's announcement of $8 million in clean water settlements is the Attorney General's third major action this week to protect the environment. Last week, Cuomo called on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to expand the criteria they use when relicensing nuclear power plants, such as Indian Point. Yesterday, Cuomo filed suit against ExxonMobil - the largest, most profitable oil corporation in the world - to force the cleanup of a 17-million-gallon oil spill in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

"Every power plant, oil company, and municipality that ignores the environmental damage they cause seriously endangers the people of New York State," said Attorney General Cuomo. "My office will continue
to strictly enforce environmental laws - these cases are not only about preserving our land, air, and water, but also about protecting the health and safety of our communities."

Attorney General Cuomo secures greater protection of the Bronx River:

NFWF to Administer Over $7 Million to Stop Storm Water Pollution of the Bronx River The Attorney General's office obtained over $7 million in water pollution settlements that will be used by the National Fish and
Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) for projects to reduce storm water pollution of the Bronx River. These included agreements with Yonkers Racing Corporation, the City of Yonkers, the City of White Plains, the Village
of Scarsdale, and the Town of Greenburgh, all of whom had been polluting the Bronx River with untreated sewage. The settlement opens the door for matching grants from federal agencies and other funders, which can deliver up to an additional $7 million in new money for the Bronx River. These municipalities and the Yonkers Racing Corporation also made separate agreements with the Attorney General's office to cease their discharge of raw sewage into the river.

Contract Awarded to Investigate Yonker's Sewage System On behalf of the Attorney General's office, the Office of Government Services has awarded a contract to Malcolm Pirnie, an environmental consulting firm, to investigate the Yonkers' sewage system. The City of Yonkers was dumping nearly 1 million gallons per day of raw sewage into the Bronx River. The contract is being funded by Yonkers, which agreed under a previous settlement to pay $2.2 million to identify the sources of the raw sewage and to repair its sewage system. The City has paid an additional $800,000 for new projects to reduce storm water pollution in the Bronx River; these funds are part of the money being administered by NFWF.

Educating School Children on Bronx River The Attorney General's office also announced today an agreement with Beczak Environmental Education Center giving them $1 million obtained from the settlement with Yonkers Racing Corporation. This money will be used by Beczak to expand their environmental education program and to teach school children about the Bronx River.

Attorney General Cuomo also achieves water protection settlements in Columbia County and Saratoga County:

Protection of Wetlands in Columbia County:

The Attorney General today announced a consent decree with Salvatore Cascino, in which Cascino must remove debris from protected wetlands, permanently discontinue use of a bridge he illegally built on these grounds, pay a civil penalty of $82,500, and donate $50,000 to protect the habitat of an endangered species. The Attorney General's office had sued Salvatore Cascino and two of his corporations in March 2007 for violations of wetlands, stream protection, storm water, and solid waste laws. Cascino and the companies he owned had been transporting construction and demolition debris from the Bronx and dumping it into protected wetlands at a site in the Town of Copake, in Columbia County. They also illegally built a new bridge at the protected site without obtaining any permits and used the area for unlawful excavation and construction. These activities damaged wetlands, a trout stream, and the habitat of an endangered species.

Protection of Schuyler Creek - A Tributary of the Hudson River - in Saratoga County:

The Attorney General's office today announced that it had penalized a company for failing to halt the discharge of raw sewage from a mobile home park into Schuyler Creek, a tributary of the Hudson River. In January 2006, PNL Stillwater, LLC (PNL), the owner of Hillside Mobile Home Park, had agreed to close their broken sewage treatment plant, redirect the waste to the Saratoga County sewage treatment plant, and repair their sewage pipes. PNL then failed to meet any of these conditions. In a modified consent order with the Attorney General's office, PNL will now pay a civil penalty of $50,000 for its negligence and make the necessary repairs. The Hillside sewage treatment plant is scheduled to close down August of 2007.

"Enforcing the laws that protect our water demands constant vigilance," said Attorney General Cuomo.

These cases were handled by Assistant Attorneys General Philip Bein and Michael Myers, under the supervision of Katherine Kennedy, Special Deputy Attorney General for Environmental Protection.

Environmental protection has been a cornerstone of Attorney General Cuomo's administration. Some of Cuomo's other landmark environmental protection victories include:

  • The State enforced a consent decree shutting down a polluting unit in the Lovett power plant - one of the worst polluting units of any power plant in the nation - while also protecting the tax base of the local community and acquiring $1 million for energy efficiency projects in North Rockland County;
  • The State secured guilty pleas from an Elmira-based foundry and its former plant engineer for hazardous waste violations; as part of the pleas, the foundry's parent company will pay $1.5 million to fund a Chemung County-based program to reduce childhood lead exposure;
  • The State achieved a victory in the fight against global warming when the U.S. Supreme Court agreed with New York State Attorney General and 12 other State Attorneys General that global warming is a form of pollution, thus rejecting the federal Environmental Protection Agency refusal to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from cars and other vehicles;
  • In one of the nation's first Superfund cases against a bank, the State reached a settlement with HSBC Bank USA, N.A., in which the bank paid pay $850,000 in civil penalties and reimbursed the State for approximately $68,000 in costs incurred as a result of the abandonment of hundreds of drums, tanks and containers at the Westwood Chemical Company, located on Tower Drive in the Orange County town of Wallkill;
  • In one of the largest cost recoveries for hazardous contamination of a municipal landfill in New York State history, the State obtained $4,987,595 from 77 major corporations and governments, municipalities, and other entities that disposed of hazardous waste in the Orange County Landfill, a State Superfund site; the funds will be used for hazardous waste cleanup in other contaminated sites.