DEC: nothing unusual in Albany's air

WNYT | August 14, 2014 | Column by Dan Levy

ALBANY - "No unusual results." That's the conclusion drawn by state scientists who've been monitoring air quality samples near oil tanker trains in Albany's South End, but just because DEC says so, that doesn't mean residents of the Ezra Prentice Apartments are buying it.

Not only are they worried, they're down right livid, and they're also determined to make sure the recent air sampling that turned up "nothing unusual" continues.

The objective of the air quality screening around the Ezra Prentice Apartments was two-fold: to determine the level or air contaminants, and then to evaluate them to find out if they came from nearby sources.

"What we concluded is that the air quality here is good," said DEC Research chemist Randi Walker. "The results were low, they are in comparison to other areas of the state, and we didn't find anything to be concerned about here."

To say that residents who attended a meeting at the Ezra Prentice community room on Thursday night weren't pleased with the findings would be an understatement. Most of them were in disbelief.

"Every time I came outside I had a headache, a severe headache," said Deneen Carter-El. "Something in this air is blowing towards us."

"When (my sister) sleeps with her window open, she always wakes up nauseous with a headache, so something is definitely going on," said Deborah Clay.

"To come in here and try to sell us something as though there is nothing to worry about and that you're not going to do any more monitoring, I think is a disservice to the people in this community," said Christopher Amato, an attorney for Earthjustice.

DEC says they took air samples five times, for one hour at a time, whenever someone detected a petroleum odor. The winds were low, the temperatures were warm, and the wind came from a certain direction.

"To say that I'm totally comfortable with the methodology, I can not say that," said Dorcey Applyrs, a city common council member.

"Just to say, well it's the same as the state and the levels are the same, it really doesn't mean anything when you're living here and you're suffering through it every day," said Dominick Calsolaro, a former alderman.

"Oh God, I hope it doesn't give Global carte blanche to do what ever they want," said Peter Iwanowicz, executive director of Environmental Advocates of New York. "I think what this study really shows is there's a problem on these small periods of time. We need to understand the extent of the problem and how long term the problem is going to be."

Many of the people who attended Thursday night's meeting said they didn't believe the study was thorough enough. Some said they'd like to see continuous 24-hour-a-day monitoring, 365 days a year, and they'd like to see Global Oil pay for it.

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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.