Norlite, a subsidiary of the Spanish company Tradebe, is a lightweight aggregate production and shale mining company that burns hazardous waste as fuel to produce its product.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has allowed Norlite to use a dangerous regulatory exemption, known as the Bevill Amendment, to produce their aggregate product.
The Bevill exemption allows mining companies that generate hazardous waste to evade the expense of disposing of it properly. Instead, if the companies can turn the waste into a saleable product, they are allowed to do so with minimal regulatory oversight.
Norlite mines for shale onsite, then converts the shale into aggregate by sending it through a pair of high-temperature rotary kilns and fuels these kilns with hazardous waste. Norlite takes the toxic dust (known as baghouse dust) captured by the pollution control system for those kilns and mixes it in with the aggregate to make a product Norlite calls “block mix.”
Block mix is a ratio of at least 88% bag house dust to 12% aggregate. At least 88% of the content of block mix comes from dust which may contain heavy metals like mercury, lead or arsenic, as well as dioxins, furans and other toxins.
Norlite stores block mix in giant, uncovered piles, exposed to wind and rain, often disturbed with heavy machinery. This causes fugitive dust to migrate offsite into the surrounding communities of Cohoes, Green Island, Troy and Colonie in New York state.
We do not yet know exactly who uses the block mix produced by Norlite, or how it is used, or how it is affecting unsuspecting communities. It may be in cement mixtures, or used as road fill or in construction. Wherever it has gone, wherever it is, this is hazardous material.
Lights Out Norlite is calling on the NY Legislature to immediately and permanently close the loophole of the Bevill Amendment, and stop Norlite from spreading toxic dust.
Saratoga Sites, a public housing complex home to 70 families, is just 400 yards from Norlite’s stacks.
Those families are now being relocated because of Norlite’s pollution. Moving the families out of Saratoga Sites apartments will provide them relief, but it will not fix the problem. There are many more residents and homes adjacent to the Norlite facility that have limited resources to relocate.
Norlite is the problem, and more than 51,000 people live downwind of Norlite in Cohoes and the City of Troy.
A Long History of Environmental Violations
Since 1990, Norlite has been cited and fined with numerous operations violations by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC)
Most recently, between 2017-2019, Norlite incinerated at least 2.5 million pounds of hazardous PFAS laden aqueous film forming foam (AFFF). The health impacts of AFFF include thyroid dysfunction, liver damage and the increased risk of cancer.
In 2020, Norlite submitted an incomplete NYS DEC operation application and has been allowed to operate with expired permits.