Ezra Prentice Residents Don't 'Believe' Results of Port of Albany DEC Study

Time Warner Cable News | August 15, 2014 | Column by Katie Eastman

The results of an air quality test are in and despite continued concerns over health risks near the Port of Albany, the DEC says there's nothing dangerous in the air in Albany's South End. Reporter Katie Eastman spoke with residents.

ALBANY, N.Y. -- The test results of the air quality in the neighborhoods around the Ezra Prentice apartments are in and the people who live there aren't happy, but it's not because the results are bad. The State's Department of Environmental Conservation's study says the air is safe, but the people who breathe it everyday don't buy it.

"What we concluded is that the air quality here is good," said DEC research scientist Randi Walker.

In a two-hour meeting Thursday night, she explained the DEC did several tests in three locations from May to June. Each test was an hour long, and they tested in weather conditions most likely to find most chemicals.

Scientists tested the air for volatile compounds, mainly the chemical benzene that is omitted from cars and trains, like the ones that pass through the backyards of the Ezra Prentice apartments. The numbers showed levels at or below the state average.

"I do not believe it," said Deneen Carter-El, who suffers from a sinus issue she says she got from breathing the air.

Each graph and every statistic the scientists laid out, the people in the meeting got more and more angry.

"There is something wrong with the air," said Deborah Clay.

"We are not crazy," echoed Michele Tucker.

Their struggles don't match this science and they want more.

"We need more than just our air study," said Dominick Calsolaro, a former Common Council member. "We need the state department of health working with the DEC to take your numbers and what you find and go to the health department and say what are the long-term effects?"

His words were met with applause. Casolaro said it doesn't matter the benzene levels are average, it matters that this is a community that is affected by them.

"[The number] means nothing when you're living here and you're suffering through it every day," he said.

The Albany county executive's office says the reason the DEC won't do a longer term study is because they don't have the resources. They want to involve the health department and consistently monitor the air pollution in the area. The county says they'll ask Global Companies, the distributor of the oil, to pay for it.

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@PAUSEnergy tweeted this page. 2014-08-15 14:49:06 -0400
PAUSE, People of Albany United for Safe Energy
PAUSE is a grassroots group of individuals who have come together to promote safe, sustainable energy and fight for environmental justice. We engage the greater public to stop the fossil fuel industry’s assault on the people of Albany and our environment.