January 2024-Press Release





For Release: January 26, 2024
More Information:  Mark Dunlea, dunleamark@aol.com, 518 860-3725
Cohoes Council President Adam Biggs, 518 237-2764


Latest Norlite Violations While Under Court Oversight Shows Company Incapable of Safely Operating and Should be Shut Down


Area residents, environmental groups, and elected officials reacted in shock to the latest Notice of Violations filed by the State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) against the Norlite Hazardous Waste Incinerator and Aggregate Production Facility in Cohoes. (Violation notice attached)


The violations came while a judge was overseeing litigation by DEC, the state Attorney General, and Lights Out Norlite (LON) against Norlite to have them declared a public nuisance. 


“It is appalling that Norlite is not able to operate in compliance with air pollution limits even when they are being sued in court by DEC, AG, and LON It shows that they are incapable of operating a safe plant and it is time to plan how to shut it down and transition its workers to good paying jobs with benefits,” said Mark Dunlea of Lights Out Norlite.


Adam Biggs, the President of the Cohoes City Council, noted that “Norlite continues to have violations that are harmful to our community. All stakeholders must work together to ensure that the health and safety of everyone is protected. These violations need to end immediately. And governments at all levels need to do everything to stop Norlite from harming the city of Cohoes and surrounding communities.”


The January 25th notice of violation concerns multiple particulate emissions (PM-10) which occurred from March 28, 2023 to January 21, 2024. The plant violated air pollution controls at a time when air quality had significantly deteriorated from smoke from Canadian wildfires. 


DEC cited several instances of hazardous, unhealthy particulate matter fugitive dust emissions from  Norlite. The most serious of these, on July 24, 2023, was caused by an equipment failure in the pollution control system. Instead of Norlite stopping production to halt byproduct dust production, they continued production and discharged the dust directly onto the plant grounds. The latest list of new violations is similar to a string of violations from 2021-2022 where Norlite was repeatedly observed operating with malfunctioning equipment (dust sprayers not functioning, broken conveyors leading to block mix product that was 100% baghouse dust).


There are many health effects from exposure to particulate matter. Numerous studies have found associations between exposure to particles and increased hospital admissions as well as death from heart or lung diseases. Even short-term exposure (hours to days) can lead to: irritated eyes, nose and throat; worsening asthma and lung diseases such as chronic bronchitis (also called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD); heart attacks and arrhythmias (irregular heart beat) in people with heart disease; and, increases in hospital admissions and premature death due to diseases of the respiratory and cardiovascular systems.


DEC is also in the process of finally amending Norlite’s permits to require them to comply with legal changes that ended the exemption of treating the fly ash from their pollution control equipment as hazardous waste, selling instead to the building industry for public use. Norlite has sued DEC for forcing them to comply with the law.

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