New York state Attorney General Letitia James' office and state Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos filed a request in state Supreme Court on Friday asking the court mandate a Capital Region manufacturing and hazardous waste burning plant to monitor emission levels or stop operations amid an ongoing lawsuit.
The state attorney general and DEC filed a lawsuit against Norlite last month seeking to force the company to curb emitting harmful substances into the air.
James and Seggos on Friday asked the court in Albany County to order Norlite to implement a program to monitor the levels of crystalline silica and particulate matter the facility releases into the air and publicly report the results. James and Seggos requested the court require the plant to immediately cease operations when emission levels approach dangerous thresholds, and hire an independent engineer to identify upgrades to reduce emission levels.
“Air pollution from the Norlite plant has made it impossible for community members to open a window or walk outside without fearing for their health and safety,” Attorney General James said in a statement. “Last month, Commissioner Seggos and I filed a lawsuit to protect Cohoes residents and force an end to Norlite’s long history of environmental violations. Today, we are taking action to stop Norlite from continuing to endanger the neighboring community, and we remain committed to restoring safe, clean air for all New Yorkers.”
Norlite's industrial operations emit high levels of crystalline silica and particulate matter, which pollute the air in the surrounding community and endanger residents’ health, according to the attorney general's office.
The DEC and attorney general's office say recent state-conducted air quality monitoring shows that Norlite's Cohoes facility — which manufactures lightweight aggregate materials from mined shale, per the DEC — is "emitting contaminants at levels that increase the risk to the health and well-being of the surrounding community."
“The joint legal action taken by DEC and Attorney General James to prevent Norlite’s air pollution was an important step in the state’s commitment to help protect the health of local residents and our environment," Seggos said in a statement Friday. “While the fight to hold Norlite accountable continues, this new filing seeks to implement additional oversight and monitoring or halt the company’s operations to prevent any additional harmful airborne contaminants from affecting the Cohoes community.”
The state conducted an intensive monitoring program at the facility in 2021 and this year and determined levels of particulate matter and crystalline silica in the air in the community surrounding Norlite exceed dangerous levels that could lead to harmful public health impacts.
The facility is located roughly 100 feet away from Saratoga Sites Apartments — a 70-unit public housing complex that housed 100 residents as of last month, including 43 children, who have observed clouds of dust migrating from the plant and blanketing the building.
They complain of myriad health issues related to air toxins, including upper respiratory issues, sinus problems, high blood pressure, headaches, eye irritation, sore throats, chest pains, asthma, COPD and cancer, according to the attorney general's office.