ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: After Ms Bredwell, Seain Pinkowski.
JO BREDWELL: My name is Jo Bredwell, and I am not a millionaire from New York. I have been a resident of Hudson, New York for the past 16 years, and I thank you, Judge Goldberger, for the opportunity to speak today.
At the Hudson Planning Board meeting on June 13, just a few weeks ago, a very disturbing discussion took place. It concerned the uses of the waterfront for events such as the Flag Day celebration that we all recently enjoyed here in Hudson. The Planning Board is now coming to grips with the fact that the proposed St. Lawrence cement plant throws into question our community's use of our own waterfront.
You should know, Judge, that our waterfront is one of the few places on the Hudson with land west of the railroad tracks offering direct access to the river. For years this area was dominated by industry forcing recreational activities inland off the river. The City of Hudson has aggressively begun to reclaim access to that waterfront, but there is a problem. We want to be there the very seasons that will be the most active for SLC. How can we gather in an area that is in almost constant use with the noise, barge traffic and industrial activity that would be all around us? What good is a park that no one can use.
Our planners have a suggestion. Perhaps, they said, they can ask St. Lawrence to give us some industry free days. Perhaps we can talk St. Lawrence into maybe 25 days a year when they will stop their operations so that we can use our waterfront. Now when asked previously about giving our city occasional industry free access to our dock area, St. Lawrence has committed only to taking it under consideration. So if we lived in a complete fantasy world perhaps SLC would volunteer to stop their operations for a few days a year. But shame on us for even thinking of giving up the right to quiet days in the sun, to bathe on the water, to days when we can gather together.
It strikes me that both the City of Hudson and SLC by even entertaining this notion are both acknowledging something that I believe to be very obvious. They are tacitly admitting that the proposed plant will seriously impact our lives. They are giving voice to the idea we cannot coexist with the plant SLC would like to build.
In an area where cement plants were indeed once part of the landscape, but gone for a complete generation, we are talking about a massive industrial installation featuring untested technology, engulfing a densely populated area of great scenic beauty. This is a monstrous dirty experiment that will create a community of slaves to its design. This plant would require us to beg for a day off from its constant assault on all of our senses, so we can have a parade, so we can play on the river. Surely there are better places in the world to build such a huge enterprise, or maybe there is a way to scale down these plans so that SLC becomes one part of our community. Instead, if they have their way, we are being annexed to SLC and they will decide what every day in Hudson sounds and feels like.
I urge you, Judge, to allow us a town that does not need the permission of a cement plant to enjoy our own parade grounds. Building this plant may somehow be legal, but it surely would be a crime.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Seain Pinkowski and then Warner Johnson.
SEAIN PINKOWSKI: Good afternoon. I would like to speak as a resident of this county where I was born here, and raised here, raising a family, and continue to raise a family in this county.
I'm in 100% full support of St. Lawrence Cement. You may ask why that I support the plant. My reason for supporting this plant is not just because it is a cement plant, but I would be in support of any multi million dollar business or corporation that would want to come to this county where my heritage has been imbedded in the earth of Columbia County. We are here to speak on the issue, though many of us are not scientists, engineers or other expert technologists. I truly believe is SLC is here to make money like any other business. I also truly believe their statements are to be correct when they say that air quality and emissions will be better in this county.
You will hear lots of opposition through the day about air quality emissions of the plant. Can we truly speak on these issues with technical opinion or degree? No. I believe the reason we are here today is because of groups and organizations that carry the names that are supposedly to protect our planet.
Let's take a moment to think about these groups that say no to any business or corporation that wants to build in this country. They come up with a small excuse to have something built in their backyard or neighborhood. Well, whose neighborhood will it be if it is not ours? You read in the papers, and see on the news, and has become a daily basis for these groups to fight every business. Where will these groups like my family, who do shopping, by lumber, cement, on a daily basis that we need in other lives. I will sit in my backyard, the place where I will raise my children, then to be grandchildren in years to come. And also I can believe that business and industry can also be here too. New York City is a prime example of combination family and industry.
The way I see it if SLC meets all the criteria by the State of New York and the federal government they should be allowed to build like any other business. This is why the laws were set up.
There was also a statement made about putting our mouths on the tailpipe. I understand that statement. But also that statement can be back and saying you don't mind driving that vehicle. You don't need your mouth on the tail pipe.
There's been talk about children. Do a lot of us have children here? Yes and no. We have talked about jobs. In this county most of them, vast majority of them, at minimal wage or slightly above. How do you expect to raise 2, 3, 4 kids on those jobs? And it doesn't matter where this business is owned or located, as long as they meet all criteria for this state and the country, it shouldn't matter where the money is.
Thank you very much for your time. (Applause).
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: After Mr. Johnson Ned Sullivan.
WARNER JOHNSON: Good afternoon everyone. About a week ago I attended a meeting at State Street AME Zion Church about the plant and the benefits of the plant. And ostensibly this was addressed to the African American community. And I wanted to learn about the details of what was being constructed in the community and the benefits that it would have for the African American community. So the first question I asked the officials are what are the benefits to the African American community the response was an increase in property taxes. And then I asked why move a plant from a rural area and put it in a major metropolitan area? The response was because it was approved. Okay. Insulting my intelligence. Then I asked a question what about the doctors' report; most of the doctors, the vast majority, opposed this. No comments.
And then I asked about what about the increase in truck traffic in the area and the pollution that it is going to cause, and the response was no comment.
And then the thing that really got me because it was something I wanted to give the slight benefit of the doubt. How many new jobs are there? 17. I said you've got to be kidding. 17 jobs. If you count the chairs in this row there's probably 30. We are talking about building a plant in the middle of a major metropolitan area, that has a high number of African Americans who have a strong propensity toward asthma? I think that is outrageous.
I want to hear something. A very personal story for me. I grew up in an asthmatic household. My brother has asthma. When friends call me late at night I answer the phone on the first ring because I'm used to my mother waiting for the doctor to call. I spent not one Thanksgiving but 2 Thanksgivings in the hospital while my brother was in the oxygen tank fighting for his life.
2. I also at the age of 19 I received a phone call from my mother saying please go to church; your brother has less than a 50% chance of surviving.
I am furious that a plant will be considered in an area that is going to cause major damage from a health standpoint. This is a threat to the well-being of the citizens here, and especially the African American community. And I'm not going to tolerate it.
So what am I going to do? The first thing I'm going to do is contact the NAACP and the National Urban League. And I plan to seek a racial bias suit. I have to find out the details about the Camden, New Jersey situation; but this will be a racial bias suit. Okay. That is the first strategy.
The second strategy is I'm going to buy shares in the company so at the next Board meeting I can speak. And I'm encouraging other African Americans to do the same thing. If there's 300 million in value here maybe I can erase 300 million in market cap.
The third thing I am going to do is organize protests. Going to this Swiss Embassy. I'm going to seek private funding to get members of the African American community to protest in front of the Swiss authorities about building a plant in this area.
Your honor, I'm absolutely outraged and furious about this. I want the plant stopped now.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: After Mr. Sullivan, Thomas Kuolos.
NED SULLIVAN: Good afternoon, Judge Goldberger and other members of the community. I'm Ned Sullivan, President of Scenic Hudson Inc. I would like to join with others who thanked you for extending the filing dateline for seeking party status, and all those today who are listening respectfully to all the speakers.
For over 37 years Scenic Hudson has been a consistent and vocal advocate of the scenic, historic, and cultural resources of the Hudson Valley. We are also very concerned about jobs. We are committed to supporting economic development activities that will build on the fabric of the region and that will preserve the historic and cultural setting that makes this an attractive place to live and work.
We are committed to and actively involved in working with citizens, unions, businesses, people in local and county and State officials to identify economic engines that will enable the Hudson Valley to thrive, and that will enable the people to work in their communities in good paying jobs.
But the St. Lawrence Cement project is not a project that meets those criteria. During the last 37 years Scenic Hudson has investigated significantly to the preserve the very scenic and historic treasures which are threatened by this project. In fact, in a landmark class which protected the Olana viewshed and designated it for protection was a fight by Scenic Hudson and others to prevent a nuclear power plant from being built across the river in Cementon.
Over the past 15 years our preservation program, our land preservation program, has worked long and hard to preserve the Olana viewshed. We've worked closely with the State and the Olana Partnership, and we have purchased over 600 acres of conservation easements in the viewshed of Olana.
In addition, we are working with the National Audubon Society, and we have preserved 480 acres of the RamsHorn-Livingston Sanctuary, the largest title swamp forest in the valley, which also lies in Olana's magnificent view.
Recently, Scenic Hudson has purchased conservation easements on 2000 acres of farmland here in Columbia County. These are active farms where farmers will be able to continue to till the soil in this important agriculture belt of the State.
As others have noted, last year the National Trust for Historic Preservation designated the valley as one of the 11 most endangered historic areas in the country. This designation was based not only on the historic and extraordinary assets the region, but also on the industrial projects such as the St. Lawrence Cement project that would threaten it. As others again have noted, the valley has been designated a National Heritage area, and the Hudson River an American Heritage River. And these distinctions were earned because of the extraordinary beauty, the ecological resources that are here, and because of the people that are here to care about them.
The area lies within the Catskill Olana Scenic Area of Statewide Significance celebrated by some of our most renown artists from the Hudson River School of Painters. And as the State Scenic designation reminds us Olana itself and the surrounding landscape remain a living expression of the subject that preoccupied mid 19 century nationalist artists and writers, the intricate relationship between man and the natural world.
Scenic Hudson has also been a strong advocate for the environment of the region, and we find unfortunately the advocates Draft Environmental Impact Statement gives short shrift to the importance of these resources and their contribution to the area's economy. At its proposed scale the St. Lawrence Cement plant will have physical dominance over the landscape, and over the people of this region. Because of the visual impact associated with the massive size, its 400 foot 40 story stacks, and 6 and a half mile plume that will be visible for significant portions of winter months and other periods of the year, the project would mar the landscape and detract significantly from the humane nature of this area in Greenport, Claverack, the City of Hudson and other places. It would be visible from the river, visible from Olana's Cozy Cottage, North Meadow, and it will replace the steeples in the City of Hudson as the major landmarks that dominant the landscape.
The DEIS is also inadequate in its analysis of noise, traffic and air quality impact. As projected the air emissions will be significant totaling nearly 20 million pounds of pollutants per year. These impacts have not been thoroughly characterized -- the health impacts on the people of the City of Hudson, and Claverack, and other areas, and down wind states, and the Berkshires, the impacts have not been analyzed carefully and mitigation measures have not been proposed. They could possible alter these impacts.
I'm not going to elaborate on these today, but we will be submitting detailed comments during the SEQR process and we are filing for party status.
As I said earlier, Scenic Hudson is committed to working with citizens, unions, businesses, people, local and county and State officials to identify economic activities that will enable the Hudson Valley to thrive without damaging the people here.
Once again, the St. Lawrence project does not meet these criteria. We opposed the project as proposed by St. Lawrence. We will be applying for party status as part of a coalition of local, regional and historic preservation and national environment organizations.
While we note St. Lawrence Cement has made attempts to mitigate some of the impacts of the project, in the final analysis we strongly hope you will conclude that this massive industrial facility is ill-suited to this area, that it will have adverse environmental impact, and will not meet the permitting requirements and requirements under SEQR, and it should not be permitted.
Thank you very much.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: After Mr. Koulos, Margaret Ayers.
THOMAS KUOLOS: Thank you, Your Honor. It is indeed fortunate we live in the United States of America where we are given the opportunity to protect our points of view as different as they may be. If you recall we first of all should consider ourselves Americans; not Africans, not Greeks, not any different nationalities or religious (unintelligible) who are trying to take advantage of you. (Applause).
The reason I'm here today is because during the crash my father was in New York City. And during that time people were jumping out windows because the economy went sour. Fortunately he moved us to Hudson. Fortunately in Hudson 4 brothers grew up here. One has passed away recently. But it didn't enter any of our minds to fight anyone who was coming in to create job opportunities for the buildings, for the roads, for the building that we are in right now.
Your Honor, you couldn't cross the bridge if we didn't have cement to put in the concrete. There are so many things that we are talking about here that have relevance and the interdependence of each one of these. And its unfortunate that we took the route of creating fear in order to stop a project that is (unintelligible) to our neighborhood.
Now, I'm sure, Your Honor, that you are going to be diligent and paying attention to what the experts say, which we are not. I'm not. But I am concerned as a parent, as a grandparent, recently had a baby grand daughter, and I'd like to see everybody here -- what are the alternatives? Where are you going to house the people you want to bring into public housing or whatever kind of housing that doesn't require cement and concrete? I want to know how you are going to build any kind of facility, whether its IBM or whatever, if you don't have cement in order to produce it.
Now jobs. Very technical. My son is an ironworker. He lives in Saratoga. He travels all over like the other people who are in the iron working business. How many people in this region are dependent on cement? The construction workers, the people who have a vision to make America a better place to live and work. And, Your Honor, this is what this is all basically about. When these people come in and they give you the differences between one idea and another, how do we work together? Instead of you're no good, I'm no good, we go back and forth accusing one another of things we don't know what we're talking about in the overall scheme.
Today we're not a planet that is just in a City of Hudson or Greenport, we're an international market where there's competition across the spectrum on everything you can conceive of. And human beings are tremendous at coming up with ideas to capitalize on their talents as diversified as they are, whether it be a school teacher or whatever the heck it is.
So, with that I'll leave you in mind why doesn't the community come together with some sound practical ways in order to accommodate something that is going to benefit the whole Hudson River Valley and beyond.
Thank you ever so much, Your Honor. I thank you for listening to me, and you have a good trip home. Its been a hot day.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: After Ms. Ayers, Irma Brownfield.
MARGARET AYERS: Thank you, Your Honor.
Good afternoon. I'm Peggie Ayers. I'm a resident of Claverack, and I am a member of Concerned Women of Claverack. I also work for a charitable foundation, the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation that has worked for more than 20 years on solid waste management issues on trying to help alleviate pollution in the Hudson River and for helping to create solid waste management plans that the city and state are held by in terms of controlling various kinds of solid waste disposal.
I have now gone through all 1200 -- all 17 chapters of this DEIS, and after reviewing the plans to build a plant in the Town of Greenport one can really only conclude the DEIS is incomplete in the following ways: One. The DEIS does not deal with the potential for burning garbage and hazardous wastes. While St. Lawrence Cement has not applied for a permit to burn hazardous waste in the Greenport facility, I feel certain it will do so. Research has revealed that St. Lawrence Cement is one of two North American subsidiaries of the Swiss Company Holderbank. The two cement subsidiaries, Holnam and St. Lawrence Cement, operate 17 cement plants in North America, 13 of which either burn hazardous waste and/or tire-derived fuels, or they have filed for permit applications to do so.
St. Lawrence Cement officials claim they have no intention of burning garbage or hazardous waste at the Greenport facility, but they refused most recently at the hearing of the Greenport Planning Board to agree to a deed restriction to ensure such an outcome. In addition to their track record of burning garbage and hazardous wastes at other facilities, and their unwillingness to exclude the use of hazardous waste as a fuel at the proposed Greenport facility in future permit applications, St. Lawrence Cement plans to build a plant that structurally could burn hazardous waste. Moreover, SLC's proposed use of coal as a fuel in its cement operation would be compatible with burning hazardous waste in proposed plants. In contrast, if SLC were required to use natural gas, a cleaner fuel, it could not burn hazardous waste because the temperatures would not rise to the height that would be required to do so. All this leads me to conclude that SLC hopes to burn hazardous waste in the future, and I believe that the Department of Environmental Conservation would be neglecting its responsibilities to protect the people of Hudson, Greenport and Claverack, and the rest of Columbia County if it doesn't take these factors into consideration in its review of SLC's plant.
2. The DEIS does not deal with the cumulative impact of existing and proposed industrial facilities of the region when considering the various impacts of the SLC facility.
3. The DEIS does not use the measure used by the Environmental Protection Agency when calculating noise impacts.
4. The DEIS does not deal with the impact of blasting on the Hudson water supply or the aquifers underlying Greenport, even though they were requested some 15 months ago to do so by the attorneys for the Greenport Planning Board.
5. The appendix on visual impacts is highly misleading. The photographs are so fuzzy as to be meaningless.
6. The DEIS does not adequately deal with the subject of fugitive emissions, that is the dust and particulates, resulting from blasting, crushing, grinding, truck traffic in and around the quarry, and barge loading at the proposed docks.
7. While the DEIS deals with the proposed plant impacts on Hudson and Greenport, hardly a word is mentioned about the historic hamlet of Claverack, which is located less than a mile and a half from the proposed mining operation and plant just over the Greenport line. One DEC official admitted that the visual and pollution impact on Claverack could not be mitigated. The DEIS simply ignores the issue.
8. The DEIS does not deal with region-wide impacts of the proposed project. With a 1200 acre mine, a 400 foot stack, and we are also talking about 400 foot stack, but remember a large portion of this part of this plant is 373 feet high, just 20 feet short of that. This is not just a stack; this is a 40 acre facility. Its just incomprehensible.
Moreover, by moving the site to the quarry you now have the base of the plant located at a height of 300 foot above the level of river, which would mean that the top of the plant would be 700 feet above the top of the river. This plant will be visible for 50 miles around up and down that river from the Taconic state overlook, by SLC's own -- they have a list in their DEIS, one of the appendices. You will you able to see this from the horse farm down in Clarmont. You will be able to see this from everywhere.
This project is too large and inappropriate for a rural historic scenic area and too dangerous to be built in a center of an area populated by 20,000 people.
Finally, 9. The draft permits do not appear to be enforceable so there would be no way of holding St. Lawrence Cement accountable for its future actions.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Irma Brownfield.
IRMA BROWNFIELD: Judge Goldberger, I am Dr. Irma Brownfield. I am a psychologist. I live and work in the historic hamlet of Claverack. I'm here today to speak to you as one of the Concerned Women of Claverack. Five women who live in Claverack, and had been following the developments of the St. Lawrence project decided to start our group. We felt that the impact of building this plant in the Greenport quarry would be devastating for Claverack and in particular for the historic hamlet which is the center of the town. We now have 120 women who are involved in the effort to stop this plant from being built. We have restricted our group to women in response to the fact that women are not represented in positions of leadership in our town.
The issues that this project raises resonant in the experience of women in an intense way, as they have traditionally been the caretakers of the home and the health and the comfort of the family. We have held two public meeting and numerous small group meetings. We have educated ourselves about the health risks to our community if this plant is built. We have learned about the terrible track record of this company. We have had action meetings where women have worked together to write letters to elected officials. We have presented our concerns to our Town Board at a Town Board meeting that we had to request because they were not talking about it in Claverack at all.
This small sleepy hamlet of Claverack is just one mile and a half from where the St. Lawrence Cement Company is proposing to build the cement plant. I believe that what I have to say is important because in the DEIS that St. Lawrence has submitted the impact of this plant on Claverack is given short shrift. The impact on this historic hamlet and rural farm community is, I believe, the most dramatic because there has never been industrial development here. With the beginning of the industrial revolution in this country, people moved from the City of Hudson in order to live in a more peaceful bucolic surroundings away from the assault of the industrialization on the quality of their lives.
This plants will be an industrial giant with buildings and a smoke stack that are as tall as skyscrapers, assaulting all of our senses 24 hours a day. We will be subject to viewing an industrial complex that is the size of a 40 acre city and stands 300 feet above river level, instead of our present view of the Beecroft Mountain that they plan to mine and bring down so we will get a better view.
This plant will also create constant noise, traffic, lighting, and increased pollution of the air in the hamlet. The hamlet of Claverack is the home of the first New York state court house, where Alexander Hamilton held forth as our founding fathers constructed a new nation. Just think of that. An 18th century Dutchess brick church stands proudly in the center of the hamlet; that is an architectural treasure.
18 years ago on the early spring day when all the apple trees were in bloom on the many apple farms in the wider Township of Claverack, I felt I had come upon a precious jewel in the landscape that had been protected from the greed that destroys history and community. Here my husband and I settled in what we felt would be a great place to be. We also soon felt a responsibility to help to continue the preservation of this wonderful but endangered part of our heritage.
Here we have met many other people with the same sense of mission; to maintain places in this country where people can live in a state of peace and reflection. Here one could maintain a sense of continuity and community instead of meaninglessness and alienation. The kind of alienation that comes from succumbing to the greed of a giant foreign corporation that has no interest in our history or our well-being.
Judge Goldberger, before you make any decision about this plant come and visit our hamlet. Visit our post office, our schools, our library. Come and see our general store and churches, and all of the wonderful homes, many on the National and New York State historic register. I have been told personally by the DEC, and it is clear from the DEIS, that there is no mitigation possible from the visual assault of this plant on the hamlet of Claverack. Help us save this historic hamlet from becoming an industrial suburb.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Susan Falzon.
SUSAN FALZON: My name is Susan Falzon. I'm a resident of Athens, and a member of the Executive Committee of STOP, an organization with 5000 signatures that has spent the past 2 years, and continues to spent time opposing the Athens Generator Plant.
We have used our scarce resources on -- our very scarce resource on this opposition. We watched with increasing alarm the development on this side of the river.
We looked at our small Athens Village in the DEIS and various places. St. Lawrence refers to the Village of Athens as one of reviving urban and industrial area. My friend, in reality it is quite different. The Village of Athens has been struggling to survive for many years, and continues to do so. We look to our neighbors in Hudson and the economic opportunity and opportunities for revitalization belong to our neighbors in Hudson as a way of spurring our own growth. If this St. Lawrence plant is built it will have a very damaging effect on Athens own ability to revitalize itself. Our waterfront is one of the most charming areas of our small village. When we look across the river at the docks, and imagine the activity and the buildings that are proposed to be there, We recognize that that river front park, which is the place where our community congregates on public days and public events -- we look to that side of the river and it is relatively peaceful. We will not, as our people have said about Hudson, we will not be able to enjoy the peace and beauty of our river front park if this facility is permitted to be built. The towers are not consistent with what we plan. The towers are not consistent with what we see today anywhere across the river. The lights at night will not be consistent with what we see today. And the focus in the DEIS are harmful and unrealistic. There will be plumes; there will be a 6 mile long plume that will be visible throughout Athens and will also be reflected at night.
We are concerned about the noise, the loading and unloading, increased operations, and an unloading dock with cement barges every 3 to 4 days of 10 to 15 hours each, and 16 to 20 shipments a year. That loading taking 3 to 5 days to unload. We too will have no place at our waterfront if this is permitted to be built.
Our water front and lower village are charming and relatively unspoiled. Our economy will simply not be helped if this plant is built. In fact, we will have lost any of the ground we are beginning to gain because we do not believe what St. Lawrence says in the DEIS, that people will want to come and buy homes in our village if their water front is to face that plant.
We are concerned too about the cumulative impact on air quality. We are concerned about having to purchase emission credits, which in fact we understand are a part of the law but don't help the air in our community. We are concerned about the cumulative impacts of this proposed plant, the proposed Athens generator plant, and the existing Catskill plant, and we urge you to study the cumulative effect on our air.
Now, we are also concerned about the question of regulatory standards versus community standards. We have heard St. Lawrence Cement speak repeatedly about their community standards and how they reach out to members of the community. First of all, they continue to refuse to sign a restrictive covenant not to burn hazardous waste. We don't see that as consistent with community standards when for years this community has told them we don't want them to do that.
We also believe that they are sadly misusing the public when they thought their -- for example the forums that they sponsor. Most of the citizens who attend those forums considered that a (unintelligible) of what the citizens actually experienced at the forums. And furthermore, I personally am very distressed to hear them quote a revered environmentalist, John Connor, on behalf of their arguments. It is an absolute sinful misuse of a philosophical position that they know is counter to there's.
Finally, we speak about the community character, and there's a lot in the DEIS about community character. There is community character pre-industrial, industrial, and post industrial. We live in the post industrial age. This technology is industrial technology at best. Let's remember we talk about the historic character of this area. The industrial age is but a small fraction of the historical background of the area. And so to say that this is consistent with what historically has been here is also a cynical misrepresentation of the truth.
We don't need to repeat the mistakes of the 19th and 20th century in the 21st century. They sayl look backward and see industrial waste has always been here; in fact it has not always been here. And therefore it should not be here in the future. It is absolutely flawed and we oppose it.
Finally, Judge Goldberger, like other people before me, I invite you to visit Athens, the Village of Athens, its water front area and its historic downtown. I invite you to imagine living here, or visit this area and look beyond the conflicting statements and think about and consider the future of these communities, and balance that against a right of a private company. This is not just about 155 jobs at an industrial plant. It is about preservation and preserving a diversified economy with rationale guidelines. It is about creating and preserving a healthy physical environment, and also maintaining the quality and character of an area that has incomparable beauty, history and traditions.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Mr.Gomez, Edward Gomez.
EDWARD GOMEZ: Good afternoon. My name is Edward Gomez, and I'm a resident of Hudson. And I welcome the Judge and her colleague, and say hello to my friends and neighbors.
My theme today is citizenship, and I'd like to preface my remarks by saying that I come from a family that prides itself on being good citizens. My entire family has served in government service of some level or area. I'm a former US foreign service officer. My father, who is into retirement, and is in very poor health, is a distinguished decorated war veteran of both WW 2, and Okinawa, and came back with a Purple Heart. So, I learned a thing about good citizenship. And I think that is what I'd like to speak about today.
Since this whole St. Lawrence Cement affair began in the community almost 2 and a half years ago the foreign company sent pamphlets which consistently lied or misinformed the public about the cement plant that they proposed to build here, and the people who work in this cement plant know it.
As you probably know, Judge Goldberger, it is common for large rich corporations to spend big money on public relation campaigns to try to buy the public's favor for whatever new building or manufacturing project they might have in mind, especially when it is clear that such activities will cause harm to people and property in the places where the corporations want to set up these establishments.
In the case of St. Lawrence Cement the pattern of misinformation and outright lying about its proposed new cement plant has been especially alarming and disturbing. The cement company purports that it is now, and that if its controversial new factory is allowed to be built that in the future, it will be a good corporate citizen in our community. However, I submit to you now just a few samples of evidence from a rather large dossier that I have been compiling since this affair began, indicating that this company with its deceitful, misleading, manipulative ways has been anything but a good neighbor here. And that in addition to the severe physical and chemical damage that this proposed new factory would cause to people, animals, properties, crops, the natural environmental for many miles around, this company has already caused some irrevocable damage to the very soul and social fabric of this community that we call home.
Examples. Facts. Last fall in conjunction with the company's so called community day public relations event that took place on its property out on Route 9, St. Lawrence Cement contacted ministers and leaders of houses of worship, churches and houses or worship in Hudson and this area, and offered to pay these houses of worship in exchange for them setting up booths at the company's self-promoting public relations event. Now, a minister -- more than one minister came to me and told me this. And then we investigated and found out in fact it was true. Some churches fell for this ploy and shamelessly took part in the event. However, most leaders of houses of worship disgusted by the company's come on rejected the unsavory offer.
Fact. Last summer the cement company worked in cohoots with the director of an arts group based in Hudson, small theatre group; worked behind the backs of the members of the Board of Directors of this organization to arrange for a so-called donation or gift as they called their blood money to the group -- couple thousand dollars. When discovered, this action led to the resignation of several members of the organization's Board of Directors who were repulsed when they found out that their director would solicit money from the company without informing them. But even more so that St. Lawrence Cement would prey upon a small vulnerable cultural organization in that manner.
Fact. In addition to buying off, or as they say, making gifts to our churches, our Little League baseball teams, the organization that oversees the historic Athens Lighthouse on the river, and many many other organizations or institutions in our community. St. Lawrence Cement set up and routinely funds, and you can check this for yourselves, a dubious organization that calls itself the Hudson Valley Environmental Economic Coalition. Now just a few days ago, with the cement company's backing, this group sent out a mass mailing to residents of Columbia County. Many of us received these cards in the mail in this mass mailing. These big postcards contain some of the most egregious lies and offensive misinformation that has yet been diseminated by this notoriously dishonest company.
Here they are. I'm a graphic designer by training. I can tell you when the same thing is done on the same printing press. St. Lawrence's card; the HVEEC's card. Same source. These big propaganda postcards say the cement company will mean "324 good paying jobs every year". The cards also stated as neighbor here mentioned earlier "Unfortunately a group of millionaires from New York City want to deny us good jobs higher family incomes and cleaner air". In fact, according to St. Lawrence Cement's own Draft Environmental Impact Statement, the notorious DEIS document we have been talking about today, its proposed cement plant will yield only one new permanent job. And as discussed by some of our other opponents of this project, you can do the arithmetic yourself and find out that the net yield of jobs, according to their own data in the DEIS document, will be one job. It is hard to imagine how so many people here will fill that one job unless flexi time is very flexi at SLC.
Now, as for the offensive insulting lies about millionaires, allow me to say that I'm firmly against the proposed new cement plant, but my family comes from North Carolina and other parts of the country. And we're certainly not millionaires. And I make my home here. I moved here several years ago. Furthermore, the hate filled supporters of this HVEEC organization that St. Lawrence Cement sponsors should remember that one of the great characteristics that distinguishes American citizen among peoples of the world is the fact that we are a very mobile society. Americans are on the move all the time. It is our birthright as Americans to be able to move with our families wherever we might wish to do so in pursuit of justice, professional, and educational opportunities or other conditions that affect our health, happiness and well being and that of our family and loved ones. Whether an individual or family has lived in Hudson and Greenport or any other American town or city for 5 minutes or 5 generations doesn't matter. As long as they obey the law and fulfill their obligations as citizens or as legal resident aliens from other counties then they have every right to be here and to make their lives among us in our community.
So millionaires from New York or paupers from Peoria, bring them on. They're all welcome and have a right to come and work and live here. If anyone, the high paid people that are passing around these lies are the executives from St. Lawrence Cement. There's where the money is.
Offensive, insulting, devisive language like that in the SLC propaganda cards from HVEEC and from SLC itself, this type of communication has absolutely no place in a civil discussion, in a civil community discussion of an issue as serious as the building of this colossally out of scale cement factory that would dump an average of some 25 tons of deadly pollution into the environment every day according to their own documents. 25 tons. Again, this data comes from their own documents.
St. Lawrence Cement should be ashamed of the bigotry and hate campaign that it has fermented through its public relation subsidiary, the Hudson Valley Environmental Economic Coalition.
These are only a few of the many blatant examples of how St. Lawrence Cement has bullied its way into our community; lying, trying to manipulate our perceptions, and bending the truth about its proposed new factory, and sowing seeds of suspicion and discord that have effectively divided us as a people. The Company's inflammatory paid advertisements in local newspapers, its misleading TV and radio advertisements, and the in person presentations by the company's propaganda messages by its high paid executives have helped to fan the flames of a distasteful and harmful class war in our community. We don't want it; we don't need it.
The company has targeted low income politically disenfranchised families in our towns whose members might not have had the educational background, the professional experiences that some other people in town might have had. They might not have had opportunities to capably analyze the cement company's public relations messages or the contents of its DEIS for themselves. Targeting these individuals and their families is wrong. It is evil. Unfortunately, for us residents of Hudson, Greenport and Columbia County for the most part, and with rare exceptions, our local elected officials have demonstrated a questionable pattern of collusion with St. Lawrence Cement. And the pattern of misusing certain offices, agencies, or organizations through which public monies, meaning our tax dollars flow, in order to help the foreign cement company achieve its aims. But that's not your concern, distinguished Judge. Responding to the cowardice and corruption of our politicians is something we citizens will have to take care of at election time in the voting booth, and we will.
For now I join my fellow residents of Hudson, Greenport and Columbia and Greene County in thanking you and your colleagues in the Department of Environmental Conservation for your attention to our concerns.
With a great sense of urgency I request that after considering the copious data it overwhelming shows that St. Lawrence Cement's proposed new factory would forever destroy this area and all that we hold dear about it, and that demonstrates that this corporation simply cannot be trusted. That it is not a good corporate citizen. I ask that you do everything in your power to deny the permits that it is seeking to create a heavily polluting inappropriate facility that will poison us all.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Della Phillips and then Frederick Hommel.
Della Phillips; Frederick Hommel.
FREDERICK HOMMEL: Hello, I'm Fred Hommel. I'm the Quality Control Supervisor at the Catskill plant. I have been a resident of the Hudson Valley. I was born here. I graduated From Saugerties High. And when I left Saugerties High I went to college at Hope College and majored in Chemistry. In 1983 when I graduated from there -- I love the Hudson Valley. I love this community, and I wanted to find work here. But back then there wasn't a whole lot of industry for somebody with a Chemistry degree. And I was fortunate that I was able to find an opening position at the Catskill plant, and I have been there for 17 years.
And now I'm proud of being an employee of St. Lawrence Cement. They have been a good employer. In addition -- in addition, the reason why we are looking to build a plant, a new plant, is because our old plant is old. It is not fuel efficient; it is not power efficient. In the global economy we're facing, quality is not the sole judge in a product that goes out into the community. We must be cost efficient. And one of the reasons why we need this plant is so that our costs will be competitive to the rest of the world. This plant will also provide jobs for technical -- provide jobs for high skilled high technology positions. These are areas that all of us will benefit from; from computer programing, to robotics, to automation systems.
In addition, one of the things that is also important in any community that I have found is that every area needs a balance of industry. You cannot depend solely on tourism, on retail, on health care, on service, on financial, on manufacturing. Each has to be a part of the whole mixture. St. Lawrence Cement is not going to be the answer to everybody's problems, but it is part of a solution for the entire area.
In addition, we have got approximately 140 good workers at our plant. They're hard working dedicated workers, and without a new plant it means our jobs are on the line for the future. And you know, every time that we go as a community and we say no to an industry, or hurt one, we are cutting our throats because eventually there won't be jobs for anybody because we will be arguing saying we don't like this job and I don't like that. It is all important. We are. All the jobs are important no matter where they are.
Thank you. (Applause).
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: I have a card from someone named Sandra L. N.
SANDRA L. NEVICH: I'm here to speak to people from a very personal experience. Okay. My name is Sandra Nevich. I have been a full time employee of St. Lawrence Cement for 5 years, and prior to that I was a part time employee of St. Lawrence Cement. More important for the purpose of this meeting, I have been a resident of the Hamlet of Cementon in Smith's Landing, New York for over 30 years. My husband's family members have been residents of Cementon for over 4 generations. At one time there were 3 fully operating cement plants within less than 2 mile of the hamlet of Cementon and many, if not most of the residents, were employed by one of those plants. I do not deny that for many years, up to approximately 20 years ago, the residents of our community tolerated quite a bit of inconvenience and aesthetic unpleasantness due to the dust from these plants. By enlarge we accepted these inconveniences as a trade off for the jobs from the plants that provided our families with decent salaries, health care coverage, and other benefits that accrue from the company, and negotiations, and union negotiations and contracts. However, the benefits earned from the cement plants would certainly not offset our concerns about any health problems that would be caused by the plant, the adult population of our community, and more importantly, for our children.
Given my background and the history of my husband's family in the community, which has given me interaction in one form or another with most of the residents of Cementon, I do not know of any health problems or illnesses that were caused by the cement dust or discharges from the operating plants. As a matter of fact they have had good fortune of many of our member enjoying a long 80 to 90 years of relative healthy and productive lives.
Another important issue at hand is the potentials health effect on our children. Again, I know of no negative effects of the dust and discharges on the children, but I do know of the very positive effects that health care coverage provided to the employees help us as parents to provide excellent health and dental care for our children. Few -- few, if any, small businesses can afford to provide any type of health care to their employees and dependents.
Over the past 20 years there has been a great reduction in the dust problem due to the efforts of the company and the mandates of different environmental agencies. I strongly support the right of any person to dispute the advantages of a cement plant in their community, even if I disagree with their premise as long as their arguments are based on accurate facts and statistics, not lies, flaws and misleading information, or ambiguous comments that can distort the truth.
From my personal experience I believe the benefits of the new plant to this community will far outweigh any disadvantages, and I personally wish that the new plant were being built right next to the old plant in Cementon in the Township of Catskill.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: I'm going to take a break. We will reconvene at a quarter to. (Recess taken).
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Can everyone please sit down.
Can everyone please sit down so we can get started again. The Sheriff's Office has asked me to announce that there is a severe thunderstorm warning in effect for this area till 7:00.
I just ask you -- we have gone through a small fraction of the number of speakers who have asked to speak this evening or this afternoon. I expect that more people will be coming this evening who wish to speak. So I really beg your courtesy to try to limit your comments to under 3 minutes so we can possibly hear everyone here today.
Also there was a question about if when we finish this session, if we will continue on to the next one, if people will have to resign up if they haven't had an opportunity to speak? The answer is no.
I intend to take a break about 6:30 for half an hour. And whoever has not gotten to speak at that point we will just start from that point on. And those people who come in for the evening session will come afterwards.
DR. JEFF MONKASH: Good afternoon. I'm Dr. Jeff Monkash, and I am a practicing doctor at Columbia and Greene County. I have been here since 1983. I am a gastroenterologist, internist, and digestive disease expert. I have served as the Chief of Medicine of Columbia Memorial Hospital from 1996 through 1999. And I welcome the opportunity to speak with you today. I will confine my remarks to several subjects all concerning the adverse health affects of the proposed St. Lawrence Cement Plant in Hudson/Greenport. My remarks will cover particulates, volatile organic compounds and the effects of blasting.
First, I'd like to recite a statement which was made by the doctors at our Columbia Memorial Hospital in our March 2001 medical staff quarterly meeting.
In a vote of 35 to 1 we made a statement condemning the proposed St. Lawrence Cement plant as a serious risk to our county's health, our community's health which will result in increased death rates expected for people with advanced heart and lung disease, increased cancer rates and the worsening of asthma in children.
Dr. Stewart Kaufman, the President of the medical staff, said he felt obligated to tell the community this is a problem. The evidence is irrefutable. Dr. Joseph Lynch, the current Chief of Medicine, said "We focused on scientific fact without getting into opinion or feeling". A considerable and ever increasing medical issue has been looking at the deleterious effects of particulate, both PM 10 as well as PM 2.5. PM 10 refers to 5 particles that are 10 microns in diameter or smaller, and 2.5 micron particles are 2.5 microns in diameter or smaller. These fine and ultra fine particles are associated with increased risk of the morality and morbidity. These particles will be generated in every aspect of the daily operations of the proposed cement plant from the production of the product, fugitive dust emissions, from the handling and conveying of the raw materials, and fly ash and cement kiln dust, and from the diesel engines of the trucks that will transport the cement and the above material.
Evidence suggests that these small air borne particles are a toxic component of air pollution. As you are well aware the National Ambient Air Quality Standards -- NAAQS -- for these particulates are used by the New York State DEC and EPA as standards for annual average and maximal 24 hour level for these particulates. St. Lawrence Cement in its DEIS indicates that the levels of these emissions of the particulates will be in compliance with the above levels. I want to emphasis, however, that increasing medical literature has shown that these levels are inadequate to protect the health of the population, and in particular children and adults with asthma and underlying cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. Even at levels that are considered to be in compliance there is increasing mortality due to increased rates of heart attack and decompensation of cardiovascular and respiratory illnesses. In the New England Journal of Medicine for December 14th of the year 2000, the copy of which I hold right in front of me now, J. M. Samet indicated that for every increase in 10 micron particulates of two micrograms per cubic meter there's a corresponding increase in the rate of death from cardiovascular and respiratory causes by 0.68 percent.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Doctor, you are going to have to slow down.
DR. MONKASH: These authors also noted that increases in ozone levels increased the relative rates of death during the summer when ozone levels are highest. This is relevant due to the contribution of volatile organic compounds in the formation of ozone. And these compounds will be increased by at least 63% by St. Lawrence's own projections in their DEIS as well as the fact that cement production generally increases significantly during the summer due to demand.
In the June 12th, 2001 edition of "Circulation", which was released last week, a journal of the American Heart Association, Larry Millman et al authored an article that linked heart attacks in at risk individuals to higher daily levels of particulates and in particular PM 2.5. The study interviewed 772 residents of the Boston area 4 days after their heart attacks. St. Lawrence Cement in its DEIS and in the mailing that you heard about that said its going to reduce the 2.5 micron particulates significantly. However, at the same time, it says that its going to actually increase the amount of total suspended particulates with 10 micron particulates. The only way I can reconcile this is that they may decrease the amount of the acid component of the 2.5, but the overall 2.5 particulate will increase.
What does this mean? It means that we in this county, in the two counties, are going to look forward to, as physicians, and I talk for my physicians, colleagues, and individual, to an increasing increase in the emergency room visits of patients with asthma, increased hospital admissions of patients with underlying heart and lung disease.
In addition, at a recent annual meeting of the American Thoracic Society Dr. Rynard Kaiser of the Institute of Social and Preventative Medicine ironically based in Basil, Switzerland, reported that at least 9% of the morality of infants aged 1 to 12 months in a number of U. S. urban centers was possibly due to 10 micron particle pollution, and the levels of this pollution in these cities were well within the guidelines. The point that I'm making is that even at the levels that are acceptable standards there is already an increased amount of heart attacks in the United States. And every time that their levels are superseded, which is the nature of the cement business, there are times when those levels of particulate are going to go, you know. Every time that happens, and numerous articles of which I have a bibliography, and the letter that I sent to you has demonstrated that that is associated with increased risk of overall mortality and heart attack rate. That is extremely important.
Next, another area of concern I have is the initial -- I should mention one last thing about particulates, which is that we do not, as Ms. Della Plant mentioned earlier, now the additive effects of the combined effect of the particulate production and emission of the now Dundee Plant across the right, and the affect of that on the emissions of PM 2.5 and 10 on the proposed plant. And as you are well aware, I'm sure, of the concept of environment justice, which is that a community should not that subjected to an incessant level of deleterious toxic effect; that includes Hudson/Greenport.
I would also like to mention in regards to particulates that ironically and paradoxically because the company at this point will not burn toxic materials that falls under a lower level of regulations, in addition to the fact that because it is varying the stack, the 400 feet stack that they have referred to, 100 feet below where it was proposed originally to be on Route 9 in the quarry, the actual air dispersion models which they submitted in their DEIS suggests, and they have admitted in their own statements, have a greater effect of local particulates and other pollutants on the immediate areas of Hudson and Greenport, which are densely populated, particularly the hospital. And the hospital lies within one mile, one mile, of the proposed plant location.
Finally, two other brief points. Volatile organic compounds. Portable cement plants are known to produce a number of hazardous organic compounds including but not limited to dioxins, furans, benzylpyrene, benzene and other polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. These compounds are quite toxic and have been linked to a number of serious adverse impacts. Short term inhalation effects include irritation of the eyes, skin, respiratory tract, C and S effects including drowsiness, dizziness, headaches, and depression, nausea, possible neurological development occurring and possible reproductive effects. In particular, dioxins and fuerons which refer to a class of compounds are extremely hazardous and are produced by Portland cement plants. These contaminants are produced by your combustion process in the making of cement. And when in sunlight they produce and contribute to amounts of ozone, which I referred to you earlier has been associated with increased mortality.
The concern about these volatile organic compounds is that they are biocummulable, which is they're produced, they stay around for a long time. They are not excreted and they accumulate day in day out, year in year out. They have been known carcinogens. In fact, tar dioxins are the most carcinogenic substance known to man. And dioxin levels collect in our own bodies -.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Dr. Monkash, we can't hear you. You're talking too fast. And you are past the time I asked you to adhere to. Please wrap it up.
DR. MONKASH: Okay. My last point. My last concern is the affect of the blasting. As you know, the hospital is located within a mile of the proposed plant. What affect will repeated blasting have on the operations of the hospital, and in particular what affect will it have on the operating room?.
Thank you for your time. And I'm sorry I ran over my time and it was a bit fast, but I thank you for your consideration.
I am personally opposed to the plant. Thank you again.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Do you have a written statement that you can turn in? Stephen Cotich and then Joel Hulsey.
STEPHEN COTICH: Good afternoon. I happen to be a Maintenance Supervisor at Catskill with 23 years experience at the plant. I'd like to speak on how our plant or a new plant can coexist in a city surrounding. After I have visited Lake Ontario, the Mississauga Plant, which is a modern operation right in the Lake Ontario area. And you can see how you have beautiful homes, luxury homes exist on the Main Street leading to the plant operation. So this is how our new plant can exist on the city surroundings of Hudson.
Also, my family was involved in the cement industry for years; my father retired from the same plant. And I started working there back in 1978 to present. I'm in favor of the plant. I would like to continue my employment with this company at this new plant.
And that's all I have to say. Thanks.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Joel Hulsey and then Chester Stark.
JOEL HULSEY: Good afternoon. Thank you, can you hear me.
I'm Joel Hulsey. and I spent 2 years observing the evolution of the St. Lawrence Cement proposal. It was announced a short interval after my own child first manifested asthma. I was nominated to the community SLC forum by the Hudson Antiques Dealer Association. Over an 8 month period that ended last November the forum attempted some understanding of this proposal. Let me tell you it was not easy. The company tried to dominate at every step of the way the presentation of the information from experts. The dealers' association will be filing comments which will supplement these. In due time you may hear and read my appeals to your sympathetic consideration of the history in this place, of history's jostling for space on the page of a record that is being drawn up here. I ask you to think often of the vestigial forests that shelters and shades this region like a majestic river coursing through it that once neared the brink of anialation. A human devotion turned it back from oblivion and revived it. Stewardship and vigilance protect it. It is history's witness and a survivor, a great treasure.
After many months SLC has produced a mountain of documents to describe a castle in the air, but a relatively simply truth persists in spite of its complex fantasy. St. Lawrence Cement is caught between two quarries; one nearing exhaustion and another to which it would come back after a 26 year hiatus that's supposedly full.
Unfortunately, the health and security of 15,000 people are proximate to this bounty, but the health of this community must not be made contingent, as SLC would like. That is their predicament. No one in her right judgement should make it otherwise. Ever courting hubris, SLC claims that from the time the first cornerstone was cut from Beecroft Mountain some 350 years ago mining and cement making are the essential ingredients of the history of this place, and what makes the Greenport project its natural apotheosis. What a specious claim this is. To go so far and say so very little. The questions proliferate like ants on a picnic table; if taken as whole truth would it enthrone a Midas, an incinerator with its jaw wired then tentatively closed.
Officials of SLC Holden, Scansan and Krupp Polysius, call the Greenport project and Holnum's Holly Hill South Carolina plant twin projects. Why? On a single day in August 2000 Krupp Polysius was contracted to manufacture production lines including kilns for both companies. Holly Hill has been a profitable waste combustor. Will the Greenport project resemble its twin in this way too? It is our future; its reasonable to ask.
An enormous amount about this enormous project remains undisclosed and uncertain, except that it is manifestly out of balance with the present and menaces our future. Meanwhile this careless, sloppy application has been bloated by hollow promises and vague assurances while vital concerns go begging. So many pages perpetuate the company's documented contempt for people, for the environmental and regulatory standards. The application is indifferent to the health and spirit of the people who live here. It would crush with pollution beyond our capacity to breathe, it would torment the tranquility of this place with thundering trucks, incessant grinding and onerous blasting that shakes the ground beneath our feet, the foundations of our homes and houses of worship, our schools, our hospital and businesses rattling the windows through which we had viewed a brightening day.
I ask you to bring this Applicant to heel, Judge Goldberger. Demand an application that our community and our environment can sustained or deny it. Welcome to the forest. I hope your armed for bear. (Applause).
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Chester Stark, and then Joseph Seery.
JOSEPH STARK: Thank you, Judge Goldberger.
My wife and I moved to Columbia County from neighboring Berkshire County in 1971. We moved here because we thought it was one of the most beautiful places in the world, and I still think that. Often I walk my dog to the top of the hill in our town and look over at the Catskills. And I hope the day will never come when I'm looking at a 400 foot stack over the same view blocking the Catskills.
Its been said that if a lie has been told often enough and loud enough its an old logical fallacy that people will begin to believe it. That is what St. Lawrence Cement has been doing. We see it in their advertising, and they have tens of thousands of dollars to spend on the radio and newspaper advertising each month. So we hear about the cleaner air. They are not building an air purification plant; they are building a cement plant. They talked about cleaner water; they talked about more jobs -- one more job. But you hear the lie over, and over, and over, and people begin to believe it. Please don't believe that lie.
Thank you, Judge.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: After Mr. Seery, Paul Bears.
JOSEPH SEERY: Good afternoon. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank everybody for listening to both sides, and I guess, Your Honor, you're the one that's going to have to figure the facts from fiction here. So, I'll just give you what I do know. That basically right now Catskill operates a cement plant. I'm very sure you are all aware of the fact that it is on Route 9W just south of the Village of Catskill. And to my knowledge I don't think at this point in time that we have hampered anyone's health or I don't see any dead bodies laying on the side of the road anywhere.
But the fact is that everyone talks about St. Lawrence Cement. I'm St. Lawrence Cement. I'm just an individual who moved here 23 years ago and has managed to fortunately put 2 kids through college; one's still in college and one in graduate school. And I have done so -- thank you very much. Hopefully one's a teacher and hopefully will get a job here in the Hudson Valley.
But at any rate, what I'd like to say is that the Hudson River -- everyone likes to talk about the Hudson River. For years commerce has been part of the Hudson River. If commerce and recreation cannot still coexist side by side I don't know where the recreation would be. Without jobs, you, I, we wouldn't have the recreation or the money to buy the boats to enjoy the river. And I do believe that this is an indisputable fact; we all share this planet. Every one of us. So you can say that a neighbor here or a neighbor there. We import a vast amount of cement. okay. There's no disputing that fact. What I'm saying to you is that St. Lawrence can in fact make that product safer, more environmentally sound than it can in the Third World countries where its coming from now. Okay. So whether you want to dispute the fact that yes, the safety, it may contaminate the air, we certainly don't content that it is as bad as they do in Peru and places where there is no regulation. We are brought to task, and that is what the DEC's job is to do.
So for all of the neighbors on this planet why not allow us to manufacture a product better and safer than they do in Third World Countries. It is going to come here anyway. It is part of the infrastructure. Okay. If you're all concerned about the planet, let's look at this planet as a whole. We can do a better job.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Paul Bears.
Mike Wickens. After Mike Wickens Michael Eisenstadt.
MIKE WICKENS: Thank you, Judge Goldberger, for giving us the opportunity to speak on behalf of St. Lawrence Cement. I do support the plant. I'm a cement worker for 21 years; I'm currently the Maintenance Coordinator at Catskill.
Clean air is very important to me. I have 2 kids; one 16, one 19. And I hope one day they will have kids that will grow up in this community. Unlike myself, I had to leave the western part of the State, Madison County, looking for a job. And that led me to this place.
And St. Lawrence Cement is a good company to work for. They're allowing me to put my daughter through a private school. My son is graduated high school and hopefully one day will go on to college as well. And I couldn't do that without the salary that I get from St. Lawrence Cement.
It is in fact the proposed plant will be cleaner than the one currently operating at the Catskill plant. Those are facts. The scientists have examined this. The experts have examined this, and someone made a comment earlier today that the cement plant is not an air purification facility. That is true. We knew that before that person said that. Will the cement plant pollute the air? It is going to be burning coal; there are going to be emissions. Are the emissions pollution? Yes. Are we polluting the air in Catskill currently? Yes. Are we permitted to do so? Yes.
We're asking for a permit to do this in a more efficient way, and the economic impact in this area will greatly positively be improved. And hopefully, like in Catskill right now, there's 3 generations of workers working there; grandfathers, fathers and sons working side by side. That is America. And without the jobs, and without the things that St. Lawrence Cement is offering the people there, and the salaries -- like someone else mentioned here the minimum wages, the just above minimum wages. You can not raise 2 and 3 kids on that wage. They are going to move out of the community. And when you lose the people in the community you lose the community.
The cement plant is going to produce good jobs. I keep hearing this thing about one job; I was fortunate enough to work at a brand new cement plant while it was under construction in Brooksville, Florida. The technology of the newer plants, this one built in 1986, far exceeds anything we do at Catskill right now. And the cement plant that is proposed at Catskill will do what we currently do, much cleaner, much more efficient, and like somebody had mentioned before, we're in it for a profit. And because of the global situation we have to become competitive. And if St. Lawrence Cement loses it facility over in Catskill because of foreign competitor's imports right next door to the facility right now.That is 140 jobs that are currently established in this area that will just go to some foreign land, possibly Peru, and be produced in a very unenvironmentally safe situation.
So, Judge, I'm asking when you make your decision you listening to all of this; that just the fact that you listen to the people here that lead you to believe that they misaligned the truth and in the way that could sway the residents in the area. And I respect you, Judge, and ask that you please listen to the facts.
Thank you. (Applause).
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Michael Eisenstadt and then Charles Klotz.
MICHAEL EISENSTADT: Thank you for the opportunity to speak at this hearing. My name is Michael Eisenstadt, and I'm a very concerned resident of Columbia County and also a former service officer. I just want to say like the previous speaker with 32 years in the federal foreign service, I represented the United States overseas. So I represented every one of you here, and I don't expect that I will be called a New York millionaire because I'm not that. Although I'm not a long time resident of Columbia County, I am a resident of Columbia County now.
The following are several reasons why I believe that the proposed cement plant will have a severe negative impact on Hudson/Greenport and all of Columbia County, and additionally, on the large area to the northeast of it.
If the St. Lawrence Cement plant Greenport facility is built it will create an ecological and health disaster. It will impact the population of Hudson/Greenport most severely since its location is immediately next to it. The emissions of toxic metals will have an immense long-term negative impact there, particularly on children and the elderly. Lead deposits, for example, will fall on playgrounds and children will inevitable ingest those deposits. The emissions of the particulate matter, especially PM 2.5, will similarly impact the Hudson/Greenport population even more than others who will be severely affected in the large radius of 30 miles from the plant. Toxic plant emissions are 54,000 pounds or more every day, 7 days a week, will increase the incidence of bronchial ailments in that vulnerable population, diminish the ability of children to learn and very likely will increase incidence of heart attacks and cancer, as is found to Greene County.
2. The area within the 30 mile radius that will be directly affected by emissions from the plant will cover all of Columbia County and parts of neighboring counties and states, which have primarily agricultural and tourist industry economies. The toxic fallout from the proposed cement plant will settle on the food that is grown in this County, and in addition to breathing air more heavy with toxic emissions and particulate matter, we will be eating more of those deadly toxins as well. And with the plume of 6.3 miles emanating in the SLC smokestack, what vacationer will still consider this an area to visit and enjoy.
3. The Attorney General of New York State has recently prevailed in federal court against several states that produce toxic emissions from a coal-fired plant that ultimately deposits some of those toxins on New York State in the form of acid rain. Since prevailing winds are to the north and east, and a 406 foot St. Lawrence Cement smokestack will assure that some of the emissions from the plant will travel long distances, are we going to allow New York State increasingly to add to the problem of acid rain? And if we do, will all New York taxpayers be the losers when states to the northeast of us sue in federal court, as New York has done so successfully.
And then there is the Hudson River. Not only will the scenic beauty of the river view, that the Hudson River School of painters found so unique, be horribly disturbed by construction of tall cement plant buildings, one of 38 story tower, eight 23 story structures, two 19 story structures, in addition to the 406 foot smokestack. But the emissions from that smokestack will also surely fall onto the river surface. One drop of mercury, I'm told, will contaminate a 20 acre lake sufficiently to make the fish in that lake inedible. How many drops of mercury will fall into the Hudson? And what will happen to the shad and the bass that commercial and sports fisherman take out of the river? Will they be contaminated as well? Has a study been made to answer that question.
Besides the toxic pollution SLC will bring to the area, if they are permitted to operate a cement plant here, they claim in their advertising that they will add 40 million dollars to the Hudson/Greenport economy. How will that be done? They clearly state in their DEIS that there will be no significant economic import for Greenport/Hudson from the operation of the cement plant. The also say in the DEIS that there will be no significant increase in their workforce, and that there will be only one extra position beyond their present payroll if Greenport is built. How then will they inject 40 or 48 million into the local economy? Is there any doubt as to which of those two claims we are to believe?.
I sincerely and respectfully request you look once more at the location of the proposed plant, Judge Goldberger. It is planned for an area that has a combined population of almost 12,000 people, according to the 2000 census, which is the largest population resource area in the county, who will have to live under a constant toxic shower. This plant should not be permitted here. I urge you not to issue of permit to build the Hudson/Greenport St. Lawrence Cement plant. It will neither provide significant benefits to the residents of Columbia County, nor to the area surrounding it. But it will surely be responsible for the deterioration of the health of persons in the immediate area of the plant, and of residents in all the county, particularly among the young and elderly, the latter with which I have come to associate myself.
I thank you for this opportunity to state my views.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: After Mr. Klotz, Diane Zipp.
CHARLES KLOTZ: Judge, thank you. Let's put the record clear. I'm Charlie Klotz; I still work for St. Lawrence Cement. And Mr. Pratt gave you a document before that I'd be happy to sit down with you and Judge O'Connor and go over exactly what transpired that day because its a misnomer what he's told you. And I'd be very happy to sit with you and Judge O'Connor.
About the same time that happened the first bald eagle was born on St. Lawrence's property on the Hudson River in a hundred years.
I was born in Queens. I've worked in the cement industry for 25 years. In 1970 I returned from Vietnam, and I couldn't get a job on Long Land so I went -- and I am an American, Mr. Gomez, because I'm a veteran, a combat veteran. I left Long Island and traveled up the Hudson River looking for work. And I went to many, many manufacturing and factories seeking employment. I went from the Throgsneck Bridge to Lake George. I told my new perspective employers when they asked me what I had been doing that I had been in Vietnam, and they said sorry, fellow, we're not hiring.
After 3 days my wife and I were very disgruntled. I couldn't get a job. We decided to stop in the nice bustling city of Hudson, New York. We went to the Royalton Motel and got their last room. It was about 4:00 in the afternoon. The clerk said why are you here? I said I'm looking for a job. She said I believe the Atlas Cement Plant is hiring. I said yeah, they don't want me. She said go see Mr. Patton in the morning.
Mr. Patton give me an opportunity. Mr. Patton hired me as a laborer when nobody else would. And I am a proud Vietnam veteran. I owe a lot to the cement industry. Two years after I was hired I was promoted to a supervisor. And in 1976 when the plant was shutdown I was fortunate enough to transfer to a plant in Alabama.
The cement industry helped me get my college education, raise my family, and learn a whole lot about making cement. At the old Atlas Plant I worked as a laborer, a driller, a dust collector mechanic. I did many, many things. After I had left Hudson, I worked for other cement manufacturers. I was a Maintenance Supervisor, a Production Supervisor, a Safety Director, an Environment Manager and I'm currently the Human Resource Manager at the Catskill plant. I don't just pretend to now all about cement. I don't know all about the industry from reading it on the internet. I know it and speak about it first hand. I know what I'm talking about.
I'm here before you today to tell you that the Greenport plant has raised the environmental standard for the entire industry. By doing so it will not only make Columbia and Greene County a better place, but it will make the industry globally better, much better for the entire world raising the bar for others to match.
I work in the Catskill plant for the people are very proud, and we take pride in doing the right thing environmentally. And we talk about history. We talk about historical value. The Greenport quarry built the Throgsneck Bridge, the Whitestone Bridge and Shea Stadium. There is some of the historic value there.
I know the way it was. I know the way it will be, and I want be part of improving the world's environment for generations to come, not stalling its progress.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: After Ms. Zipp, William Johnson.
DIANE ZIPP: Thank you, Judge Goldberger. My name is Diane Zipp. I'm Comptroller for the St. Lawrence Cement Catskill plant. I've lived my entire life in Columbia County. I have lived in Greenport, Hudson, and I currently live in Livingston with my husband and 2 sons. I have a degree in Accounting and I have a degree in Business Administration. As part of my degree it was to study economics, and I know that economics just doesn't mean financial gain. There's a lot of factors that need to be weighed; environmental, social, economic, etc.
I've weighed the factors pertaining to the project. The benefits far outweigh the negatives; less pollution, more jobs with good pay, more quality cement produced in the United States to build and repair our infrastructure, more property tax dollars to local municipalities, more money being spend in the local economy.
The St. Lawrence Cement Catskill plant is already in compliance with current environmental regulations. We have an Environmental Manager on staff that insures that the plant is compliant. If it was not we would not be allowed to operate.
We currently employee 144 people; skilled laborers, professionals, manager. Our total payroll in 1999 was 8.8 million dollars; all to people that live in the local community.
Arithmetic tells you it is more than minimum wage. We also purchased locally in 1999 10.5 million dollars worth of goods and services. We also paid 4.1 million dollars to a local trucking company to ship our products. Some of the local services purchased include: Towing, printing, surveying, catering, landscaping, trucking, engineering, hotels, temp agencies, florists, we rent vehicles and equipment locally, we use local medical services, we buy lumber, building supplies, tires, vehicles, electrical supplies, and it goes on and on.
Having said this, and these are all positive things about Catskill, the Greenport plant will be an improvement. As already outlined in the DEIS, it will reduce pollution over the Catskill plant. We will employ 155 people after the new plant is built, and that is not just an increase of one because we have 2 dozen or more employees over the age of 55 that will retire eventually. As these employees receives their benefits positions will be opening up to give the opportunity for excellent employment to others.
The Greenport plant operating budget will be approximately double or more the Catskill budget. So that means that the amount of goods and services purchased locally will increase. We strive to be a good neighbor at St. Lawrence Cement in Catskill, and a good employer, and we produce a quality product for our customers. We have been doing it for many years.
The Catskill plant is an old plant and as time comes it makes more sense to build a new modern facility than continue to make repairs and modifications to obsolete equipment. The employees of Catskill are counting on successful completion of Greenport for continued employment.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: William Johnson. Brian Weller. Dennis Smith. Barry Fellows. Arthur Cook. Cynthia Wright. John Kargoe. Pamela Price. After Ms. Price, Cyndy Hall.
PAMELA PRICE: My name is Pamela Price. I live in Claverack, New York. I own a home there; I work there. And I am here to express my vehement opposition of the proposed St. Lawrence Cement plant and quarry operation in Hudson/Greenport, New York.
I urge you, Judge Goldberger, to deny this foreign corporate giant the permit which would assist them in destroying the place I call home.
This plant will negatively impact the health and quality of life of the people of this area, and cause environmental destruction and degradation. This plant will burn coal, a known contributor to acid rain. The 400 foot emission stack will spew 20 million pounds of pollution right over my home every year. These pollutants including, by are not limited to, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, and volatile organic compounds. These pollutants affect the body's ability to carry oxygen to the brain, vital organs, tissues and cells. They also cause or contribute to early death, breathing problems, respiratory illness, lung damage, and cancer to name a few.
Since I have asthma, I can ill afford breathing in the toxins the SLC plant will emit very close to where I live.
The proposed stack will be clearly visible from my home as demonstrated by the recent balloon test. The enormous scale of the plant will produce visual impact, noise pollution, and increased truck traffic will put a huge strain on our roads. The barge dock will destroy the South Bay, one of the most famous and frequently painted vistas of the Hudson River School of Artists. The renowned Frederick Church built his home, Olana, at the place he proclaimed the center of the world.
I bought my home in this area because it is the most beautiful and pristine place I have ever been. I believe it is the most beautiful place on earth.
I implore you, Judge Goldberger, to stop this corporate behemoth from destroying one of few remaining unique environmentally and culturally valuable assets of America. Give the Hudson River, the Hudson Valley, and the people who live here the love, care and respect they deserve.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: After Ms. Hall, Judith Harris Weitzman.
CYNDY HALL: Judge Goldberger, thank you for extending the filing period time.
My name is Cyndy Hall. I'm a member of the Concerned Women of Claverack, a teacher at Hudson Middle School, and a taxpayer and home owner in the town that St. Lawrence Cement forgot. Claverack. They never considered the visual impact on Claverack, and they never considered the environmental devastation to Claverack.
As the owner of a small house in Claverack I'm angry that my home and town are threatened by a 400 foot stack that will emit just under 20 million pounds of pollution every year. Pollution that will fall on our homes and farmland, and into our children's lungs. Many children in my school have asthma already; visiting the school nurse for a puff of medicine from an inhaler helps them to breathe a little bit easier. We know the affects of PM 2.5. Why in the world would we want to put our children at further risk? The enormity of this project and the effects on our lives, homes, and community will be felt for generations to come. This behemoth does not belong here. It shouldn't be built here.
JUDITH HARRIS WEITZMAN: Judge Goldberger, thanks for the opportunity to listen to our comments.
I've lived by the Hudson River all my life of 75 years, and have worked all my life here as well. So on the one hand I know intimately the grandeur of the Hudson River, and on the other hand I know what it means to punch a time clock by its shores. If St. Lawrence were to actualize more dollars in more pockets, and if it was supported by a credible operationable track record I might consider welcoming it. If it were a clean industry of a size proportionate to the town it proposes to abut I might consider welcoming it. And as it is, neither of these facts are the case. The vast proposed size of the plant, its designation to use the shores and waters of my favorite river for its purposes, I find insupportable. Our river has just been granted national historical status. St. Lawrence Cement is but a slap in the face of that honor and an abomination to those of us who have enjoyed the shores for a life time.
When my grandchildren, one of whom has a tendency towards asthma, come to visit me, I'm sure their growing lungs will not welcome the additional fallout from St. Lawrence should SLC build in the Greenport Hudson area. Nor is the view of the cement plant as engaging a sight as an apple orchard, or a sheep farm, or the small towns of our county.
I strongly oppose the erection of this plant, and if the overachieving company from abroad thinks they are putting down a down huge facility of this description in the midst of small town hicks they are much mistaken.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Sylvia Idelson, and Michael Dunn next.
MICHAEL DUNN: Judge Goldberger, and everyone who has spoke, I thank you for being here on this hot day. I don't have a great deal to say; its all been said very eloquently before me.
I do wish to agree with the man in the blue shirt who spoke -- that had a white collar. We are all Americans. We are all part of this community.
Let me remind you that St. Lawrence Cement is only 2% American owned, only 2%. I'd like to make that point.
I don't want to jeopardize the jobs of those people that have them, but very few, if any, of the new jobs are going to be added. They are going to come over and they are not going to contribute to our local economy. That has been stated in their own admission.
I also wanted to say that they have a track record that is lies, misrepre- sentation, they are unreliable, they are irresponsible. We don't need them.
As I said before, I'm not going to go on and say everything everyone else said before. But I do want to point out one thing that people haven't said. At the moment Columbia County has 5 pounds of lead dropped on it a year. Five pounds. We all know a lot about lead; we know about it in the paint in our houses and we're warned to be careful about having our children near it. St. Lawrence, by their own admission, and we know they don't tell the truth. So anything more they're protecting themselves or maybe using a figure that is less than we might find in actuality. They are saying, an admission, that they will drop approximately 350 pounds of lead a year on our county. That is 70 times more than we have now. I'm saying that our county as opposed to across the river because the winds drive the pollution to the east.
Judge Goldberger, thank you very much.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: James Jollie.
JAMES JOLLIE: I have heard a lot of the talk about this giant corporation. Joe Seery stood up here and said he was St. Lawrence Cement. And I want you to look at all these blue shirts; some had to go home to their families. That's St. Lawrence Cement. (Applause).
I have been accused because -- keeping that in mind we have been called idiots, we have been called ignorant, today we were called criminals, and we were called racist. I'm none of those things. I find it to be incendiary and unnecessary.
Another thing that we need to address is all the talk about one job. If St. Lawrence has to leave here to remain competitive in the global market you are not losing just 150 jobs, we are losing all the trucker's jobs, we losing all the contractor's jobs. That is all money that leaves your area.
I have lived in Ulster and Greene County since 1968. After serving in the Armed Services St. Lawrence was kind enough to provide me with employment that pays greatly upon that service. I have been with SLC since July of 1988. Since then I have worked or done work for every department at the Catskill plant. I have watched this old plant evolve environmentally, and I am amazed and overjoyed at the strides St. Lawrence Cement has made in this area.
In the interest of protecting people and the environment the government places restrictive standards on our industry. St. Lawrence Cement monitors the areas of these standards continuously, and we work very hard to maintain the level of each item not just to meet the standards to surpass them. And in fact we are successful. If we can do it in this old plant, it stands to reason that this new plant will be even better.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Patricia Gravett.
PATRICIA GRAVETT: Thank you for taking our remarks this afternoon, Judge Goldberger.
I have lived in this county for many years. And one of the many beautiful aspects of Columbia County that drew myself and my husband to this area is the Hudson River. It truly is a jewel, and one that our county has put a great deal of effort into opening our waterfront to the public in New York. This is where I'd like to direct my remarks.
Prior to moving to this county I was employed for nearly 15 years in a major oil refinery. I worked for the Vice-President of Shipping who had responsibility for building the tankers which brought the unrefined oil to Canada for refining. One of my duties was to arrange for more than a dozen ships to be refueled in various ports around the world. I sent messages to the ship's masters and received them on a regular basis. So I knew what was happening in the ports. The ship's fuel is a very heavy grade of fuel oil. It is called bunkers. It is extremely dirty. And by its nature it is volatile. Ships crews errors occur regularly. I heard about them all the time. Non English speaking crews having difficulty understandably in dealing with the orders and emergency situations created many problems. Fuel was accidentally discharged overboard regularly. Wrong way fires occurred and explosions had to be constantly guarded against.
Here in Hudson we would have the combination of coal dust right at the docks and fuel fumes, which is immediately adjacent to a public park and a large residential area, not a contained refinery area.
I would like to be sure that St. Lawrence Cement will make provisions for dealing with the inevitable cleanup from these oil spills. And do they have permanent dockside fire fighting equipment and personnel to deal with an explosion or a runaway fire, one which could easily spread to the town.
The other difficult issue inherent with shipping is discharge of ballast water at the dock where the cargo is taken on board. There's absolutely no way to know with certainly where the ship took on its last ballast; it could be the Middle East, could be the Mediterranean, it could be South America. And therefore, there is no way to know what organisms, viruses, bacteria and other plant life they would introduce into our area of the Hudson River in large quantities.
I'd like to know what impact this ballast water will have on the Hudson River and the public park immediately adjacent to it. The Hudson River is a fantastic, fantastic asset of this community, and to this state.
I would ask you, Judge Goldberger, to help us safeguard it. Thank you.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Tony Gravett and then Gordon Dillard.
TONY GRAVETT: Thank you, Judge Goldberger, for giving me the opportunity to say 3 minutes worth of stuff.
First thing I'd like to talk about; air monitoring. There is no current air monitoring by the DEC in Columbia County from what I can find out. The closest air monitoring facilities are at, I think, a place called Dikeman's Pond in Rensselaer County, north of us, and Millbrook in Dutchess County. We don't have any current baseline measurements of air quality levels in this county. We are the piggy in the middle here.
You hear all about PM 10. We hear all about PM 2.5. What is this? Its dust. Talk to us. And what we are doing here is we are becoming a high risk area for this disease and promoting of dust in terms of health hazards. I'm not prepared to gamble that these dust emissions will be cleaner. I don't see the evidence to support it.
I'm going to cut this short. The focus today is on the environmental conservation. I want to talk about the preservation of the opportunity to grow this county. That's part of what conservation is about. Its not just about keeping trees in a forest. Its about allowing businesses to grow, about allowing the economy to grow as well.
I want to give you an example of how our local economy grows all the time. It doesn't need a huge corporation from offshore to come and install something for us to get a very positive economic growth.
There's a company here in Hudson called HAVE -- Hudson Audio Visual Enterprises. The president, Nancy Gordon started her business 24 years ago -- It will be year 25th year next year -- with two part-time employees. Today with the help of some local development agencies it has grown to 75 employees. That is about half of what SLC's employment is. This is an example of a clean business with careful growth working with the community, environmentally responsible, attracting other businesses. They supply media and supplies to film makers and documentary makers, people such as that. This is an example of growing jobs, growing the community, conserving the environment and allowing opportunities for growth. And that is what I as a tax payer pay my state authority and the DEC to conserve.
And the last thing I just want to point out, children breathe more air. There aren't very many kids in this room, but I play for a local band. And we just did a benefit for a local daycare center. And there was nothing except 4 year olds, 5 year olds, 6 year olds dancing around. And when I was looking at them while they were performing, I realized these kids take in a lot more oxygen than we do. They do an awful lot of breathing, and they are down there on the ground. They are running around like crazy. They just breathe more than we do. We have got to help other children grow and prosper. Let's protect their health. We don't understand the science of particulate matter yet. It is a very new science, and here we are being prepared to take the gamble that this particulate matter is safe. I don't believe it, and there's not the science to support it.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Gordon Dillard and then Tim Shook.
GORDON DILLARD: Hi, I want to thank you for giving everybody the opportunity to speak.
I'm a resident of Berkshire County, Pittsfield, Mass, and I've been watching what's been going on here in this region because I've been studying population figures in this region. And its amazing that environmentally there's been so many restrictions that have actually choked off businesses and the people in Columbia, Greene, Rensselaer County and Berkshire County. But a lot of people are tied into those environmental restrictions on all businesses for a good reason. There are things that need restrictions and monitoring. But there are groups in this region that have a stronghold that tend to scare off communities from realistically and fairly giving business opportunities. And its about jobs. This community needs jobs as well as environmental protection. And if you can work together on that fact, that's a great deal.
What I've researched is the death rate in Greene County does not substantiate the claim that pollution in this region is a negative affect on the community. The City of Hudson has lost population because people have abandon this city not because of environmental negative impacts. So, what I have presented here, or I will give to you, is the data of the death to birth rate in this region population lost that -- This is your community. You want to bring people back to this region. And I find it very ironic that environmentalists try to tie in Berkshire County to that same fact. We need businesses, and I would love to see St. Lawrence come and redevelop the brownfields in Pittsfield. I mean even if they aren't successful here, even if they are. I would like to see them because Pittsfield needs revitalization as well as its environmental beauty.
I think people should come together. I don't believe that the environmental scare tactics is a vital way to effectively protect your community.
State the facts, and if they go through the wash so be it. But I'm glad that there's an opportunity for everyone to speak. Thank you.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Tim Shook. Allen Zwoboda. William France. Dorothy Lynn. Mary Crellin. Elizabeth Nyland. Rynda Roy. Ira Marks. Diana Jelinek.
IRA MARKS: Judge Goldberger knows me because I have written her about this issue, and although she does have some information that I have sent her I thought it was important that I come to this hearing and give some new information and perhaps restate some other things.
My name is Ira Marks. I have practice pediatrics in Chatham, New York since 1964. Before that I was in the Air Force. While I have lived in Columbia County I have been President of the Tri-Village Fire Company, and although I wasn't born here, my youngest son was born here in Columbia Memorial Hospital.
For many years I was Chief of Pediatrics at Columbia Memorial Hospital. That includes the time when Dr. Gold was Chief of Medicine and when Ella Bliss and Katie Brockaw were the local pediatricians. I have been here a long time, and do not consider myself a New York millionaire. And I resent the sort of thing that SLC has been putting out about people who question them.
I want to get certain facts on the record. And the facts are for you to look at in their own Environmental Impact Statement and are readily available in all the medical literature, medical literature that is published in what are called papers or journals that have to pass the Boards of specialized doctors before it is put in the literature. These are not people who are against or for St. Lawrence Cement. They are simply presenting known medical facts.
Now, Dr. Monkash referred to the most recent article. This was just published last week in the medical journal called "Circulation". It is the official medical journal of the American Heart Association. and in that there was an article which came out the Department of Environmental health and the Department of Epidemiology of the Harvard School of Public Health, the Division of Cardiology of the Massachusetts General Hospital, and the Institute for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease at Harvard Medical School.
Now, Dr. Monkash has referred to the fact that what this study showed was that the onset of myocardial infarction, heart attacks, increase. I'm going to quote from the abstract of the article, "Increased in association with elevated concentrations of fine particles, what we called PM 2.5 in the previous 2 hour period", not 24 hours, not the average of all the days of the year, but in just 2 hours. I'm not making this up. And I think it is important because one of the things that's going on here is an emphasis on saying if the DEC regulations are okay. It is safe.
There was a time when we were told by doctors on the back of "Life" magazine; I smoke Camels. It is wonderful. We all know that cigarettes are not safe. It took decades before the government was willing to impose anything on this; even just a little label on the cigarette pack. The information was there in the medical literature a long time, but the tobacco companies want proof; was it the tar, was it the paper, was it the length of the cigarette was it how far you inhaled, was it how many cigarettes you smoked? All of these things have been shown to be significant. But way back then it was known that it was from smoking, and you got increased incidence of cancer. Many people smoked 3 packs a day for 50 years; they didn't get cancer. That doesn't mean that the cancer that other people got was related to their cigarettes.
And the only fact that I'm trying to get across here is that particulate matter is constantly being referred do in the medical literature as a source of medical harm, and that the level of particulate matter that is being shown to be dangerous in the medical literature is below the level set by the federal and the state government.
So if the plant is built because it passes all these regulations, we're only kidding ourselves. A certain small percent of the people who live around here are going to have more heart attacks, are going to have more asthma attacks.
Another very important paper that was just published in December of 2,000, 6 months ago, in the "New England Journal of Medicine". This is probably the most prestigious journal in this country, medical journal in this country, and is considered to be prestigious all over the world. That paper demonstrated by studying other studies which went through 20, 30 cities all over this country that the level of PM 10 was related to increased death rates, cardiovascular and respiratory rates. When did this happen? When the PM 10 level went up 10 micrograms per unit. We don't get into it, but 10 points in one day. Okay. 10 points when within their own data, they give us information, and I will refer you to it. In other words, in the DEIS, in the Air Permit Application, on page C34, Table C 17, presents a full impact analysis for various pollutants. The PM 10 total for 24 hours is listed as 49.46 units. 49. Now that's the worse that they say is going to happen. And part of that is from old plants. But over 20 of that is from this plant. And the article shows that just going up 10 is going to increase the death rate by .68%. That means nothing. It means you are going to have to know 200 people that maybe effected. But the fact is its true. It is just like the death rate from cancer from cigarettes. You have to have a large population before you understand what 's going on, but this is going to happen. Its happening all over. Its being reported all over the world.
I think with regard to PM 2.5 -- another thing that they mention, and again its in the same chart right in your DEIS. That the maximum facility impact will be about 13. Now, how do you calculate this because they never report actual PM 2.5 levels anywhere in the DEIS. But within their own DEIS they say its legitimate to calculate PM 2.5 by taking 40 to 60% of PM 10. They report in that chart that they -- just the facility itself -- is going to produce 22.8 PM 10. Okay. If you take 60% of that, and it comes out to 13. A journal just in 1999 an excellent study was presented in which it showed that there was a 15% increase in the emergency room visits for asthma for children when the PM 5 Level 2.5 level went up 11. And in their own data they're telling us that there are going to be times when it is going to go up over 13. You know what the levels are set by the State for? 15 and 15. So obviously if someone gets an asthma attack when that happens it can't be due to this. Of course it will be due from this. And it is still for us to believe otherwise.
If you want to have the jobs, that is fine. If the plant gets put here, that's fine. But you have to understand what's going to happen.
I'll read you just some articles from some other articles in the medical literature.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Dr. Marks, I'm going to ask you to please wrap up your remarks.
IRA MARKS: I won't read the other articles, but they all say the same thing.
I'll repeat one thing in addition that I already said to the judge. The laws of New York State, the Environmental Conservation laws, the declaration of policy in the law it states "It shall further be the policy of the State to foster, promote, and create and maintain conditions under which man and nature can thrive in harmony with each other and achieve social, economic and technological progress for future generations.
And under that: You can achieve this by: Guaranteeing that the widest range of beneficial uses of the environment is obtained without risk to health or safety". Now, some people may be satisfied with going along with their regulations. I much rather go along with the law as stated in the policy, and believe you me if the plant gets built there is going to be increased risk for asthma attacks, for kids and adults who already have asthma, and there's going to be increased risk of myocardial infarctions for older people among us.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: You are.
DIANA JELINEK: Diana Jelinek.
My name is Diana Jelinek Lebar. I have lived for part of each week in South Greenport off of Route 23 for the past 15 years. My husband bought our property, an early 1800's farmhouse with 7 barns and 41 acres in 1973, which was 28 years ago.
The plant, if constructed, would be under a mile and a half from our property; the stack easily visible from our front yard.
I'm asthmatic. My concern is air quality. Despite what SLC says about reduced pollution, which I do not believe, I feel that rather than having our windows open year round as we do now they will have to be closed against the polluted air, particularly at night. I think of the need for an air purifying machine going all the time and the use of bronco dialators and nebulizers being a constant in my life instead of a sometime thing.
I anticipate the freedom of outdoor living, gardening, walking, biking, running will all be reduced by dirtier air as a result of such a huge cement plant. As an asthmatic, what is the point of being here where there has been so much outdoor pleasure to be had if I need to constantly resort to the house and my air filtering machine.
My husband is familiar with the impact of cement plants. He was here when the old Atlas plant was in operation 26 years ago. He remembers reports of increased respiratory disease during those years, grass coated in dust, cars in need of constant washing, windows were never clean. Perhaps if the SLC prevails we will simply leave the county taking with us the two jobs we provide and thousands of dollars we expend on our property, on gas, on maintenance of three vehicles and a tractor, not to mention the weekly purchase of food and cleaning products for two houses, and the deliberate discretionary purchases we make here where it is important to the economy, rather than in the city where it is not important. The sneakers, the appliances, the Christmas presents, the hardware. There are many like us who contribute similarly to what is currently a fairly stable local economy. Who follows suit if SLC builds? And by the way, who will compensate us for the drop in our property values? Certainly not SLC.
As an asthmatic, I shudder at the thought what this much higher level of pollution will do to my health. I think of living with constant tightness in my chest and how my doctors' bill will increase as a result of SLC's need to pick a site where 20,000 people's lives and health will be adversely affected. Who picks up those increased health care costs? Presumable the general public. Certainly Not SLC.
The American Lung Association says "inhaling even relatively low air borne concentrations of dust and particulate matter can cause lung disease such as asthma or emphysema, and is associated with premature death.
Their Albany chapter gives the incidence of the prevalence of asthma in Columbia County. 2359 adults and 1210 pediatric cases for a total of 3,569; the prevalence of emphysema at 572 cases and that of chronic bronchitis at 3597. We can expect those number to skyrocket.
Some questions. Shouldn't we put into the equation an estimate of the increase of cases in these three categories of respiratory disease.
SLC is projecting emissions, such as mercury, based on certain kinds of clean coal. This is a contradiction in terms right there. What guarantees and safeguards will be built into the permit which would prevent the company from buying cheaper, dirtier coal in the future.
Why hasn't national gas been fully explored as a legitimate alternative in the Application.
Our part of the Hudson Valley often experiences air inversions in which cooler air higher up traps warmer, polluted air below. The SLC application dodges this crucial problem which aggravates impacts from plant emissions in this location by citing data from Albany Airport.
What monitoring of emissions will SLC envision to make sure that theirs are within acceptable limits.
How do we know what the pollution will be from the truck traffic? I too, along with the previous speaker, looked up the Consolidated Laws of the State of New York. And at the risk of repeating I'm simply going to quote one piece. "Its hereby declared to be the policy of the State of New York to conserve, improve and protect its natural resources and environmental, and control water, land and air pollution in order to enhance the health, safety and welfare of the people of State.
I fail to see how you can grant SLC the permits they have applied for and consider that you have adhered to those laws.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Can we get your statement.
Bill Gilbreth and then Claire Oravec.
BILL GILBRETH: Good afternoon, Your Honors. My name is Bill Gilbreth. My wife, and I, and our youngest son live in Germantown about 10 minutes south of this college.
Our son is 1 year old, and that is why I'm here today. I brought him earlier but with the heat and everything he couldn't stand the heat, and I didn't know if you were to mark him as an exhibit or something so I took him home.
But when Conway was born, that's our son, a year ago he couldn't come home with his mother and me because he was born quite prematurely. We learned at Albany Med that premature infants are at increased risk of respiratory issues, and that there are other people with increased risk for other kinds of issues if they are born prematurely.
So when I learned that St. Lawrence was proposing to build its plant I was vitally concerned, personally concerned. My background originally was in physics, and I went to law school, and for 30 years I advised clients and represented them in court in connection with technology.
And so I made it my business to do everything I could to inform myself about the pros and cons, and particularly the health issues of this proposed plant. The first indication I got about citizenry interest was Friends of Hudson, and I read some of the things they were doing. And I became concerned that they were rushing to judgment before the facts were really known, although they were legitimately concerned. And so I wrote a letter to the editor of the paper and expressed those views. And there was a rush to judgment by well meaning people, but of course the people that pursued McCarthy were well meaning too. And because of that I was invited to be on the forum that considered these issues and invited speakers to speak for about 6 or 7 months. And I attended those meetings, and asked my questions, and when I got done, I concluded that the most telling argument for me and for my family was the argument of St. Lawrence that their new plant would be less of a health risk to me, and my family, and similarly situated children than their existing Catskill plant. And it is not an easy issue I found any way. It is an issue that I know that the court will have to consider because some of the pollutants go up and some of the pollutants go down. And its a complicated situation. Some of it is dependent upon modeling by computers as to where air will take pollutants and so forth.
But having sat through it I became completely convinced that it was in the health interest, contrary to many of the speakers that have spoken so far today, to have the new plant and discontinue the old plant. And with respect, a lot of my neighbors are involved in Friends of Hudson, and to a certain extent St. Lawrence is a neighbor because they are across the river from my home in Germantown. But I have no affiliation with St. Lawrence. I'm not employed by them. I have never represented them. I have no affiliation with Friends of Hudson. I have in the past on a voluntary basis, a pro bono basis, been intimately involved with various environmental groups; notable the National Resources Defense Council and their interest in clean air water, the Environmental Defense Fund. I'm the Chairman of the Zoning Board of Appeals in our town, although I'm here to speak only on my own behalf and not on behalf of any organization.
But the reason that I'm here is to invite the court to do what I think is going to be the difficult job of finding the facts as to whether or not the new plant will be less of a health hazard than the existing plant. I am convinced that it will be. And for those reasons I support the construction of the new plant. I have no economic interest. I have only my own, and my family's, and my community's health interests in reaching that conclusion. But it is based on about 8 months of looking at it. Listening to many of the speakers that have spoken here today, some of whom I think get a little carried away with their rhetoric, some of whom are highly credentialed and very sincere in their beliefs. And so that's a health issue. And on that basis I support the plant.
The second thing has to do with what some people have called corporate citizenship. And Friends of Hudson has gone to great lengths to dredge up antitrust violations in Europe by parents of parents. And to me, it seems irrelevant to the issue of corporate citizenship.
I have my own personal experience. Living across the river from the Catskill plant, I saw what I perceived to be too much cement dust going into the river one day. My knee jerk reaction, like some of my friends, was to go call all the environmental groups and so forth. But instead, happily, I called the supervisor of our small town, George Sharp, and he gave me the phone number of the person in charge of environmental matters at the St. Lawrence Cement plant in Catskill, and I called him. And immediately it was stopped. It turned out one of the loading silos had had like some cement had hardened into the silo. And in an effort to dislodge this now hardened cement, they created dust. But the person that did it did it just because he was doing the correct thing. As long as it was told to the company's attention, that it was in my view polluting the Hudson River where I paddle my kayak frequently they immediately called a stop. They went down, and the supervisor changed the procedure. They finished the job without, at least to my view, any dust in the river. I felt they were responsible, and indeed at the hearing have spoken more responsibly than the speakers that have spoken in opposition to the plant because they avoided words like liars and other incendiary labels that seem to be getting thrown around here.
The last thing that I want to speak to -- I'm trying to limit it to my own personal experience, because I don't think you need my views unless I can back them up with facts, has to do with the Hudson River. The Hudson River is a enormously important resources in our community I'm sure you know. We have nesting bald eagles now returning to the sanctuary in the Hudson River. And when I go through in my kayak, and so forth -- I've been all over the Hudson River for years. The most intrusive things in the Hudson River, in my view, are the loading silos that are used by the Catskill plant to bring cement that is manufactured in their Catskill plant out in the loading silos that are then used to put on the loading barge in the middle of the Hudson River. As I understand it, St. Lawrence Cement has made a commitment if their Greenport plant is approved by the court, and they get the regulatory permits that are required, they have committed themselves to removing those silos.
Now, it struck me as ironic when people talk about the view from Olana and so forth, which is another very important resource here, that people can neglect the fact that times have changed. Certainly the Rip Van Winkle Bridge was not in Frederick Church's view when he built Olana, but it is there. It is to carry cars across the river because it is needed. If we remove the loading silos that intrusion on the Hudson River will be gone.
For all of these various reasons, I urge Your Honors to look carefully at the balance between the proposed Greenport plant and what it will mean and not mean, and the Catskill plant and what it means and doesn't mean. And if you reach the same conclusions that I reached then you will approve the new Greenport plant.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Are you Claire Oravec.
MS. ORAVEC: Yes.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Okay. The next speaker will be Joyce Hearst.
CLAIRE ORAVEC: Thank you for spending the whole day with us listening to the long drawn out issues here.
First, I want to tell you I'm in love with the Hudson Valley and my Town of Hudson. It is the most beautiful area that I have ever seen. And every time I drive out through the county I'm reminded as to how lucky I am to live here. I think our Town of Hudson is an historic gem that was miraculously saved by urban renewal and sprawl. And I think we are so fortunate to have a town like that still existing today.
I'm just going to start by telling you a little about myself. After going to college for two years I moved to the Hudson Valley pretty much broke after college. I was looking for somewhere to complete my life and pursue a dream of being a professional gardener and designer. I got a job working with a carpenter for 6.50 an hour. And now six years after living here I have been able to take classes at the Millbrook Ecosystem Institute and have completed a Certificate as a Master Gardener with Cornell Cooperative Extension. I am going to tell you I have a thriving business as a gardener/designer. And there is so much demand for people who do what I do in this area. There are more jobs than I can handle.
So anyway, I'm telling you this because I'm not a millionaire, and I'm insulted that St. Lawrence Cement is belittling these important issues by creating a class of welfare -- workfare.
What is important to me is the environmental and the health of my -- my health and my neighbors' health. I don't believe their claim that their coal burning plant will decrease toxic greenhouse gases. I don't believe that they will adhere to mandated emissions levels. And I'm angry that they won't sign a legally binding document that would disallow them to burn tires and toxic waste.
Their track record is deplorable. And the long list of false advertising that you've been shown this afternoon I think is really quite tragic. And I think its unfortunate that many people are swayed by these advertising claims that are not true. The truth is in their DEIS application, and it is just a matter of reading that.
So, as a gardener I work outdoors all day long, and its been pretty hot this summer. But these past few days when there's been the ozone alerts that were issued -- you hear them on the news in the evening and during the day time on the radio. Anyway, I have had difficulty breathing the past few days when they had mentioned these ozone alerts. Its felt like -- like a lump in my chest. More of a difficulty breathing. Just very slightly, like I'm just very slightly aware that there's a difference compared to other hot days. Right. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I can taste the smog. I'm sure of it. And then there's some pretty horrible, you know, eye crossing headaches as a result of all of this. And I know it isn't just from the heat and humidity. Coming from the south I'm used to hot oppressive summers, and I've never experienced anything as concerning as that. I'm a young healthy 31 year old woman who would think that I would be able to handle working outdoors all day. But this is -- its a concern to me.
So anyway, I have some color Xeroxes from a Cornell University Press Book about the disease of trees and shrubs, and they are really quite frightening illustrations of the causes of depleted ozone and acid rain as well as -- caused by sulphur dioxide and nitrous oxide -- all of the emissions that St. Lawrence will be emitting. I'm going to put these together for you and mail them in.
But once again, I just wanted to share my own personal concerns about the health, the environment, and my neighbors. And when I choose to have kids one day soon, you know, I certainly would not want their health to be compromised by the asthma causing agents.
So thank you very much for your time.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Thank you.
Joyce Hearst. After Ms. Hearst, Albert Cook.
JOYCE HEARST: Thank you for allowing me to speak, Judge Goldberger. I know its a long day. I think I'm almost unable to speak at this point, but I'm going to try.
My interest in being here stems primarily from an experience I had driving down Route 9 on my way to the shopping center. There was a car of young white males driving ahead of me, and they deposited the garbage from their car on the head of a past middle aged black man who was walking along the highway. He must have been going to do his shopping. That man never bowed his head; he just kept on walking. It was something to see that was so heart breaking and so distressful that it took many hours for me to gain my composure. The only thing I could think was what can I do in Hudson to make things better.
And I determined because I have a background in education, to go to the Hudson school and tutor because I know how to teach reading. And I have been doing that for the past year. I have spent well over a hundred hours at the John L. Edwards School tutoring, and I am very glad I did.
But the reason I'm telling you this is because my interest comes from benefitting Hudson. It doesn't come from benefitting myself, and it doesn't come from my property value. It really comes from my heart.
I found that the summer program at John L. Edward School is called -- one of their programs is called a playground program. And I just learned yesterday that the children will be outside on the asphalt or blacktop at the John L. Edwards School from 8:00 in the morning to 4:00 in the afternoon. They will only go inside for lunch.
John L. Edwards School can't be more than a mile from the proposed St. Lawrence Cement plant. The thought on a hot muggy day such as today when the ozone is as it is today, and the inversions exist, that those children will be on the playground for that number of hours is devastating to me. And I think it must be to their parents, however, I'm not sure their parents realize this. I'm not sure who will realize it. But it seems as though someone must speak for them, and I'm sure many people will.
The other thing that concerns me particularly is the location of the aquifer and the reservoir in relation to St. Lawrence Cement. The reservoir is within shouting distance of the proposed St. Lawrence Cement plant. It is uncovered, and the aquifer is even closer. I can't even conceive of what the blasting will be doing to the aquifer, to the reservoir, or to the hospital.
To put something the size of St. Lawrence Cement next to those facilities for a vulnerable or any population seems unbelievable. And without the scientific knowledge to speak to this, and at 5:30 after you've been here all day, I'm not going to.
There was a previous speaker about two back who said he made a study himself that this was a cleaner plant. I had blown this up, and I don't know if I can submit it with my remarks. But this is the netting analysis, and it shows that of the various particles and pollutants they equal 16 million parts annually from the existing plant, and from the future operation, which is the combination of the Catskill and the Greenport it is 20 million pounds. So it is about 20% more, and this netting analysis seems to be from the -- it doesn't seem to be, it is from the application. And I would like to just put it in with my remarks.
I guess, you know, to be brief that is some of the things that concern me, and I don't think that anybody that has come up here has any personal reason for opposing this plant other than they want the safety and the health of their community. And I appreciate the workers who have come from St. Lawrence Cement to discuss their relationship with the company. And I appreciate their need for employment, and I understand their family situation. I don't know what role that must play, but it is a different role than the role of health to the whole community.
So thank you very much.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Albert Cook. Then John Cross.
ALBERT COOK: Thank you, Judge.
My name is Albert Cook. I'm an elderly man of 71 years old. I worked for the Atlas Cement Plant for over 25 years. I was President of the union, Vice-President of the union, and I have done numerous negotiations with the Atlas Cement Company. I have heard all kinds of statements here tonight.
First off I want to thank the St. Lawrence Cement employees for being here, the Friends of Hudson for being here, and also you. I have dealt with the St. Lawrence Cement for 2 and a half years. I believe I was one of the first, and Sam Pratt, that had a meeting with the St. Lawrence Cement Company 2 and a half years ago. And the first discussion I had was with Dirk Cox and Denise Brubaker. And we had a discussion on this monstrous plant they proposed to build. St. Lawrence was good enough to allow me to be on the forum which I helped support. Genevieve Tury, Mike Becowski, Denise Brubaker, myself, created these forums, and got people from all society to discuss issues. St. Lawrence Cement Company was good enough to bring their experts, and was also good enough to allow us to bring experts of all kinds dealing with all issues. We had 13 meetings, and we also had business meetings which totaled close to 51 meetings. And in these meetings a lot of statement were made; good and bad.
Judge, you've got a difficult decision to make on any of these situations.
And as a cement worker working for 24 years, I know the whole scope of the operation of the cement plant dealings from the by-product to the finished product.
What my concerns are, number one, the plant is too big for this territory. I'm not -- excuse me. I'm not saying that we don't need a cement plant. Some people may think I'm just talking crazy because people have spoke here tonight that we cannot exist in this world without cement. Everybody understands that. The point is can we exist in this territory with a plant such as this.
The St. Lawrence Cement Company was good enough to send the forum members to the Midlothian, Texas to see a plant similar to this. We visited that. We should have had more time, but we weren't allowed it. I got all the information I could from that plant. And I admitted in the paper that this plant was a modern technical plant, modern technology. But I also learned that management, which is nothing unusual with big business, they ignore some of the safety factors dealing with the cement plants. When I was in Midlothian, Texas they have a wet process, a scrubbing process. During that time unfortunately every piece of equipment was broken down. That piece of equipment was broken down unbeknownst to me. I didn't question it at the time because I had other questions. I come home, and I asked one of the representatives of St. Lawrence Cement Plant is that cement plant running at full capacity? Tom called up. And to my surprise the plant was running at full capacity. So that gives me a message when a scrubber is down and the company ignores the pollution laws and allows that plant to run at full capacity, that tells me what the scrubbers should be collecting is going through the stack. So it bothers me when the company allows this to happen.
Another concern of mine is the Atlas Cement Company years ago -- I worked there 24 years -- has polluted that area, and a lot of other members don't want to admit it. I'll admit it. That they dumped toxic waste going down toward the South Bay in an area, and I'm questioning St. Lawrence Cement how they cleaned up that mess? The reason why I say this is they dismantled the Atlas Cement Company, took out all the material that they could make money on, and left the material which they couldn't make money on, which is 20 silos, the power house, the silo down by the river, the left the ties in the South Bay. That hasn't been cleaned up, and I wonder why they haven't cleaned this up? The company themselves, 13 years ago, knew they are going to built a plant. And they come in here 2 and a half years later and say they want to built a plant; never gave us enough time to prepare for the shock.
You know, I believe we need a cement plant, but not of this size. The company has to be back to the drawing board and reduce the amount of cement they're going to put out. And also I believe it should have a goal of gas burning because coal is a dirty process. And the belt that they proposed, the conveyor belt, and yet today I haven't seen anybody know what this belt is. Its going to be a tubular type belt, and I don't know if its experimental, if there's anyone being running today. If it has I'd like to see one. They showed pictures on television what it looks like, but yet I believe it is experimental. We should look more into that.
Another important factor that I think has to be looked into is the blasting factor up at the quarry. The Company had ample time to take down them 20 silos on Route 9. They had ample time to take down the old power house. They had ample time to take the silo on the river front down. Their excuse is this: We can't take it down now because we can't get contractors. They've had 25 years to do this. They can get a contractor at any time, and in the DEIS they stated they would take these down 5 years after they build the plant.
I urge you, Judge Goldberger, that you would consider before you allow this cement plant to come in, that maybe they better go back to the drawing board and reduce the size of this humungous plant that they want to build.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: John Cross. Emily McCully.
EMILY McCULLY: I am here to deliver a letter from the members of CAN -- Community Action Now, which was formed to fight out of scale reindustrialization and to support a diverse and balanced economy in the Hudson River Valley. And we are convinced that the proposed St. Lawrence Cement plant poses a grave threat to our well-being and our way of live.
Now I'm not going to read you the whole letter; I have got it to give to you. I do want to cite a few other points.
Basically we have many concerns that you have heard a lot about this afternoon. And many of them have been so eloquently alluded to that I don't want to repeat things. Basically we argue that the draft EIS fails to show how the plant's negative impact on the community's character in particular can be mitigated. One of the things that popped right out of the DEIS is on page 21-1 that says "In today's regulatory climate development of special facility at a new location within the Hudson Valley or New York State might not be possible". Now I think that we have heard the argument very persuasively made today that it should not pass regulatory review here.
In the 30 years since, or perhaps 25 years since, cement ceased to be produced here in Columbia County, the economy really has been revitalized. And the DEIS ignores the connection between the demise of the cement industry and the development of this new economy, which is based on national beauty, ecological appeal of the area, a revival of home-based businesses, and thriving retail sector, a mixture of light industry, real estate, tourism.
There was a report produced by the Patterns for Progress Task Force, which consisted of leaders in public and private sectors in Columbia County a couple of years ago produced under the aegis of the Chamber of Commerce talking about the future of the county, and how the economy continued to grow and be vital, emphasizing improved education, growing agriculture, tourism, higher wage jobs, especially home based businesses based on the quality of life -- people attracted here by that. And cooperation with Berkshire County is one of the main points. Now we heard a representative from of Berkshire County and heard about his extremely -- his concerns about the plant.
Page 318 asserts that the project would have little effect on the 2 county region, and it says because of the area's character and heritage the proposed project would not adversely effect tourism and recreation in the area. And this on the face of it is ludicrous. These benign and sustainable economic activities have flourished precisely because the cement industry largely disappeared here after 1975.
There is a section on visual resources, which purports to quantify the aesthetics of rural living and tourism. In effect people are said to be able to tolerate the massive new plant with its 400 foot stack and city block of other structures either because they must keep their eyes on the road while driving past them or because they'll simply get used to them. And the arguments going on in that vein under the visual impact.
We hope very much that you conclude that this cement plant does not belong here; that it is grossly out of scale, and inappropriate, and dangerous.
And thank you very much for conducting this hearing.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: The court reporter needs to change paper, but the next speaker will Ros Meisner.
LINDA DALY: My name is Linda Daly, and I live in Claverack on Stonemill Road less than 2 miles from where they're going to be building this plant.
I'm concerned about all of the many problems associated with this plant, but I'm most concerned about the health risks. The medical staff of Columbia Memorial Hospital stated that this plant will be a serious health risk to our communities with increased cancer rates and worsening asthma in children. We can save lives and make it easier for asthmatic children to breathe by not building this plant.
Thank you very much.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Thank you.
Mary Evans. And after Ms. Evans, Sara Hartman.
MARY EVANS: Hello. My name is Mary Evans, and I own a house in West Taconic here. And I've been thinking about what unites all the different people that are here today; those wearing blue shirts, those otherwise, and I think its that we all want certain things from life. We want opportunities to live a life of dignity, to be able to have a job that will support ourselves and our loved ones, we wanted to have opportunities to maybe make the world a better place for those who are going to come after us. I honestly believe that that is something that we all share in common.
And when the gentleman with the blue shirt who said I am St. Lawrence Cement. With all due respect to him, I believe that he is an employee of St. Lawrence. I do believe he is my neighborhood, he is my fellow tax payor, and that we share a lot of things in common. But I have to tell you I do not believe that the foreign owner of St. Lawrence Cement in that far away place in Switzerland, you know, is a very good neighbor to me the way the workers who work for this plant and give their best to this plant. And that angers me because I don't think that the people over in Switzerland are treating my neighbors and me with the appropriate amount of respect. They want to build a new plant, that is gargantuan, four to five times the size of the existing one. Are they thinking about me and my neighbors when they make the size of the plant what it is? They want to say -- now this is their wording -- one new job created. This isn't Friends of Hudson or me. This is their wording to the government agency where they're held accountant. Now this Swiss company when they put ads in the $25,000 a month publication relations campaign, and I wish that money was coming to me and my neighbors. They don't say things like -- they say jobs $64,000 a year. But when they talk to the government they say there will be one new job. And they also say that the net affect in the region -- there will be no economic advantage to this gargantuan plant. This is again their words, not mine. That, to me, is not a good neighbor, and I do not believe that the people who work in St. Lawrence if they had a voice would be that kind of neighborhood that would so disregard the health and the dignity of the people that share our neighborhoods and our communities.
So, when I look at this neighbor that St. Lawrence Cement is -- they want to build something again that is gargantuan. They originally wanted to say that the new plant was identical to the old plant so they could avoid recent pollution laws that have gotten stricter. What kind of good neighbor is that? And if it hadn't been for Friends of Hudson, the pollution levels we've been discussing would be very old ones, more harmful to all of us -- workers of the plant and those that just live in the community. What kind of a good neighbor is that who wants to build a plant, one of the largest cement plants in the world, a mile way from a hospital, from a school, even from the cemetery where our loved one are buried. What kind of good neighbor is that? That is not a good neighbor to me.
And with all due respect to the people whose livelihood depends on St. Lawrence, I respect what they need to get from life. I think we want the same things, but I cannot respect the Swiss foreign employer who has such contempt for the dignity and the honor that all of us here are trying to realize in our lives.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Thank you.
After Ms. Hartman, Arthur Baker.
SARA HARTMAN: My name is Sara Hartman; my husband, daughter and I have had a home in Columbiaville for a little over 22 years.
I feel like this cement plant project is like the Trojan horse. They promise you everything looks really goods from the outside. They promise you a beautiful plant, and all these wonderful things, and salaries, and tax dollars. And the reality when it actually -- if it were to actually get into the county -- the reality can be quite different once you have it inside and it opens up, and all the different problems that they can't even begin to put a finger on or estimate at this point.
Pollution. I mean they can give figures now, but who knows human error, you know, and accidents that happens, spills that occur, and the Hudson River -- which this is one of the most pristine areas of the Hudson River, this whole section through here. There can be, as has been mentioned before, intentional oversight. DEC doesn't necessarily regulate things that carefully; they may not have the staff to do it. I mean, it is really an impossible kind of thing to put any kind of figures on because nobody really knows once the reality is in place.
Also, all the traffic that is going to be increased on the local roads, and the emissions; no one has addressed the emissions from all the trucks that will be polluting from all the barges or ships or whatever come in to transport on the river the cement. And also, the fact that they are not promising and not agreeing to not burn toxic waste is a severe problem because that means that they will be -- if they do decide to do that, which they will certainly be in place to do because cement plants are allowed to do that, they will importing toxic waste from other areas in order to provide fuel for the plant, which is permissible.
And I think the other consideration that has not really been mentioned yet is that now with -- about 16 years ago Columbia County was trying to build an incinerator and create a landfill, and they actually were soliciting garbage from surrounding counties. Well, now the fact is that the Freshkills Landfill in New York City is closed. And they are going to be desperate for incinerators, which have not been approved in New York City, place to build incinerators and to dump their garbage. And once you start allowing polluting industries, now you have got the Athens Generating plant wanting to come here, you've got St. Lawrence plant wanting to come pollute, its an open invitation for other companies, other industries, to come into this area and pollute the county and the surrounding counties, and it can be a non stop thing.
If any of you have ever driven down the New Jersey Turnpike you see how one after the other after the other of polluting industries create an area, change the whole character of an area where perhaps it was once a very desirable place to live can easily become a place where nobody wants to live except people that are stuck there and can't possibly afford to get out. And I think that's a real serious problem here. And we don't know what other surprises might be in store in the future for this whole area once you start inviting these kinds of companies into the area.
And there's already been so much conflicting information about how much money they're actually going to supply. And this circular which I found in my mailbox yesterday, it says that they will be adding an extra 48 million dollars every year to the local economy. Well, they're talking about several hundred thousands of dollars per year to the tax base, and a few -- well, a number of short term construction jobs, and maybe a handful -- one of maybe a handful more permanent jobs. It doesn't sound like 48 million dollars. So, you really just don't know what to expect.
And I think that it is a very serious consideration to look toward the future not just the immediate.
And thank you, Judge Goldberger, for your time. And thank you everybody.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: After Mr. Baker, Dr. Posner.
ARTHUR BAKER: My comments deal mainly with the visual aspects of the project. My name is Arthur Baker. I'm an architect and a long time resident of Columbia County.
I care about deeply about this region, and the residents well being. I care about the environment, health, economic prosperity, the beauty and history of this area, and the scenic landscape.
I have in the past for many years served as a trustee of the Columbia Land Conservancy. I also served as a member of the committee that drafted the recommendations for the landscape restoration plan of the State's Olana Historic Site, and I am presently as have been for many years, a trustee of the Columbia County Historic Society.
I have carefully evaluated the information available and delved into the draft DEIS prepared by St. Lawrence for the proposed Greenport project. And I've sadly come to the conclusion that simply stated this is the wrong plant in the wrong place. When the proposed plant was first announced I had an open mind about whether it would be an asset to the area. However, based upon the facts and evidence, I have concluded that the proposed plant would be detrimental and inflict great damage on the region for generations to come.
With respect to the Chapter 5 Visual Resources of the DEIS, I find this chapter so flawed, full of inconsistencies that in its presents form renders it unacceptable and inadequate as a basis for evaluating the visual impact of the St. Lawrence plant. I believe that the Department of Environmental Conservation by accepting the draft EIS as complete has unwittingly become complicit with St. Lawrence in keeping the public ignorant of the true visual impact of the Greenport plant.
To quote from the DEC Mission and Responsibilities. The Department of Environmental Conservation was created in July 1970 to bring together in a single agency all State programs directed toward protecting and enhancing -- protecting and enhancing -- the environment. And among the responsibilities is to inform the public about environmental conservation principles and encourage their participation in environmental affairs. The logical and most straight forward way to inform the public and encourage their participation regarding visual impact of the proposed plant would have been to have required the construction of an adequate scale topographical model of the five mile vapor plume viewshed. The model could have been put on display so the general public, local officials could observe the visual effects for themselves and make their own minds up as to whether there will be any improvement or degradation of the region's environment landscape.
The suggestion was made to St. Lawrence Cement in May 2000 and DEC in September 18, 2000, and neither ever replied. I'm aware the Saratoga Associates, St. Lawrence's consultants, considered such a model to be inherently incorrect and inaccurate. As an architect I disagree and believe it would be more accurate or more enlightening than selective viewpoints subjected to viewshed modeling and photographic simulation. Certainly the combination of two methods of analysis would be more accurate than either one.
It would also be much easier to assess the affects of the plant and dock areas if large-scale models had been presented at those two facilities. The construction of these models should be mandated by the DEC. The combination of excluding, to quote from the EIS, evaluation of project visibility from identified visual resources, including the visibility factor, and substituting likely worse case vapor plume of a thousand meters in length instead of the high vapor plume of 10,280 meters, 6.38 miles in length has resulted in a dramatic reduction of the number of sites effected and the degree to which they're impacted. These serious distortions have resulted in producing totally inaccurate unrealistic findings so much so as to render them unacceptable as a basis for evaluating the overall results.
In recent years great meaningful progress has been achieved, and continues to be made toward preservation, appreciation, understanding, and enhancement of the visual and historic cultural heritage including the agricultural and scenic landscape.
If the St. Lawrence plant is ever permitted to be built it will for generations to come seriously compromise and degrade the visual landscape and quality of life of this region. And that's the region's great assets.
In spite of St. Lawrence's propaganda, and the DEIS emphasis on language and analysis designed to minimize the visual impact of the plant, one steps back and impassionately views the plant, you will be confronted with by far the tallest, largest visual eyesore and plight ever proposed for this county and this region. We must collectively not permit this plant to be built for whatever small financial gain that may accrue to the region, but rather cherish and respect our long term visual heritage and life style.
If this plant is constructed, it will not, as St. Lawrence Cement suggested, provide a cornerstone of economic opportunity and growth but rather a visual tombstone memorializing the lack of foresight of the people and the system that permitted it to happen.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Dr. Posner. And then Susan Newton.
DR. NORMAN POSNER: Good afternoon, Your Honor. Thank you kindly for listening so attentively to our concerns. I think we have redefined Sterman Drong both inside and outside the gymnasium.
My name is Norman Ames Posner. I am a full time resident of Greenport in Columbia County, and have been living here for over a quarter of a century. I am also a retired obstetrician and gynecologist.
My concern is that in the citing of critical issues for our community such as St. Lawrence Cement versus the residents of Columbia County, it is crucial to note the history and the character of the company involved. As with all business and personal relationships, if we don't know the track record of the parties we cannot evaluate the current claims. If we don't know the history we are condemned to repeat the errors of the past.
In this case I submit we are dealing with merchants of death masquerading as our saviours. The Swiss parent holding company Holder Bank during World War 2 obtained from Nazi Germany and used slave labor. And it took them 50 years to admit that.
The Canadian subsidiary of Holder Bank, Holnam, has a long and abysmal record it both this country and Canada of ignoring regulations and violating safety rules all designed to protect the public, and another record of fighting legal ethics to reign them in long after they are caught. All of this, despite their promises to follow the law. How can we trust them here in Columbia County now with that record.
The St. Lawrence Cement plant in Catskill has existed for over 25 years resisting upgrading and modernization, constantly using the grandfathering excuse. The proposed Hudson Greenport plant, three times the size of Catskill, using more land than the entire City of Hudson, and expected to last from 50 to 100 years will directly bear on more than 25 times the number of people living around the plant in Catskill. In addition, it is in close proximity to the major area hospital serving both counties, old age facilities and schools effecting the children of our area. The proposed plant has been associated with a vicious citizen unfriendly campaign to malign the opposition, mislead the public, and pervert the truth. They claim burning coal is better and safer than natural gas. Not true. They refuse to guarantee that they won't burn hazardous waste. They have denigrated the medical opinions of 34 of the 35 local doctors who have viewed the scientific literature and warned about the serious danger to breathing because of the increase in particulate matter, especially the smaller particles under 2.5 microns.
Their repetitive propaganda and manufactured letters in the local press have bombarded the community with overt lies. They claim an increase in jobs when their own statement admits none. Note that the unemployment rate in Columbia County at the moment is about 3%; about the lowest in the entire state.
They claim an average wage of $64,000 when any school boy's arithmetic would show the means averaging all their Presidents, Vice-President and treasurers, and has no meaning for the average worker. They miscalculated the taxes they might pay, and they try to fool us that this will either bring us a great benefit or markedly reduce our taxes. Neither claim is true. At best their might be a small reduction in taxes.
What St. Lawrence Cement has shown truthfully is that they will increase pollution, and certainly as you can see from today, increase the controversy and dissension among residents of Columbia County. They have been cleverly and consistently devisive in their propaganda. It resembles the worst anti-ethnic approach of a dictatorship. They maligned their opponents with outrageous accusations based on their economic status and geographic origins while ignoring the fact that they are at their heart a billion dollar foreign company which would not allow such a plant to be built in their our county.
They treat us in Columbia County with the contempt that they would show a third world county whose raw materials are theirs to rape and pillage at will. They are merchants of death and deceit and should not be allowed to desecrate Hudson and Greenport.
And I've been here since noon this afternoon, and have been watching the fouls. And if we were recording the fouls that the guests would perpetrate I think we would go bouncing off the clock.
Thank you very much for listening so attentively.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: After Ms. Newton, Charles Hallenbeck.
SUSAN NEWTON: Thank you, Judge Goldberger.
My name is Susan Newton and along with my husband and two children we maintain a home in Spencertown. We've had it for 17 years. I'm one of those dreaded New Yorkers, but have to say that a New Yorker who spends every moment I can in Columbia County. Every moment that I can afford to spent here. So I think my point of view on this is probably as important as that of other people who are also in the community who contribute obviously to taxes and everything else.
Having been a part of this community for a long time, I have long believed in the importance of new jobs to Columbia County. And so when I first heard about the plant I was quite open to the idea of at least considering what it was all about. However, after gathering as much information as I could over the past 2 years I have reluctantly concluded that this is not a good opportunity to increase the number of jobs offering benefits and pensions in the county. First of all, I don't think they're nearly enough jobs to justify such a large plant, whether it really is only one or whether it is 25 as I had heard initially, it simply doesn't justify putting such a huge plant in our midst.
Secondly, I believe the cost to the community of those jobs is far too high. I don't want to spend a lot of time talking about this because I think a lot of people have done an excellent job of doing it, but just to reiterate a few of those points: 24 percent more pollution in one year than we have now. That seems to be a very high cost for how many jobs? Secondly, demands on our infrastructure, our water, our roads, emergency services etc. It seems that those are going to cost a lot more than the $500,000 a year that plant will contribute to taxes. Then beyond that, I think the destruction of the viewshed of this wonderful part of the country is something that we should not tolerate, and then there's noise pollution from blasting, conveyors loading equipment, etc. And there's always the question of whether or not St. Lawrence will, despite saying that it doesn't plan to do so, whether they will ultimately seek to burn toxic waste at the plant. All of this seems to me a very, very high cost that we shouldn't tolerate.
I don't want to continue long, but I really am appalled that we would think of giving so much power over the quality of life of citizens of this county to a foreign owned company that has such an appalling track record, and has time and again demonstrated its contempt for the people who live by its plant.
I really believe that Columbia County needs more jobs, but I really believe that Columbia County deserves better than this.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Charles Hallenbeck. Karen Malina. After Ms. Malina, Barbara Dague.
KAREN MALINA: My name is Karen Malina. I was born on the Lower East Side of New York City and raised mainly in the Bronx. My grandfather and uncle were all union members, and my family has always been sort of working people so I'm very concerned about people's livelihood. But I don't see St. Lawrence Cement resolving that problem in this county.
I was fortunate enough to move to Columbia County in 1980. My son graduated from Chatham High School. I'm a registered nurse and certified social worker, and I presently work at Hudson at the Department of Health Early Intervention Program. I work with very young children with moderate to severe developmental delays, and I see children and their families struggling all the time to make a go of it in this world.
I left my job today and have been here like everybody else because I really want to express my deep concern that this plant should not be built here. That it is not good for I don't think any of the citizens of this county, and especially the young children that I see on a daily basis. If this plant were to be allowed to be built and to pollute the air and to scar the landscape, and effect the lifestyle that I and my family and my friends have and to cherish, I doubt I will stay here, raise a family here which would be my hope for my future and my family's future.
Besides health issues, aesthetic issues and lifestyle issues I'm opposed in particular to this company in everything that I have heard about its horrendous history as provided to its communities. Its a corporate polluter. It is a Canadian Swiss based company that has no local interest whatsoever in our county. I don't trust them to comply with any standards set by any agency. I do not trust them to not utilize anything to burn their fuel to provide them with operating ability. Anything they can get cheaply. And I do not trust them to be a positive contributing member of our community.
I hope when this fight is over -- I hope my way wins. That we can take all our energies that we are spending here to find better jobs and better industry that suits our community appropriate to the scope. And as long as it takes I intend to keep fighting. I'm not going to go away, and I hope the other people who have a vested interest will also not go away.
Thank you for your time.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Barbara Dague. And after Ms. Dague, Diane Whelton.
BARBARA DAGUE: Your Honor, thank you for this time. If you are feeling fatigued, I have been fighting the issue of burning coal since 1964. The fact that it has found its way as an issue back into my life is just unbelievable to me. I can't seem to get away from it, and then I realize that is probably the point. Its a global issue. We know that fossil fuels are causing a terrible problem worldwide.
And I would just ask that you take it out of what is painfully problematic to our community, but look at the world issue. With all due respect today DEC and EPA are antiquated. These regulations are outdated, and we should be questioning their global warming production, the GWP. That is what is at issue for any polluting industry.
And I just hope that if you want to start with an example start here.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Diane Whelton. John Pickett. Carrie Fertig. Sara Laing. You are.
SARA LAING: Sara Laing.
Thank you for being here and hearing what we have to say.
I have lived in Columbia County for 8 years. I came here for the clean air because I'm allergic to air borne pollutants. I am a writer, a yoga instructor, and a retired psychotherapist. I'm the cofounder of one of this first country's first hospices and have cared for many people dying of respiratory ailments. I was also president of Health Promotion Associates, which taught wellness in the workplace to workers in factories and large corporations. I have been working with preventive medicine modalities for 37 years.
I have also traveled in 30 countries and 49 states as an environmental consultant, and I chose Columbia County because it had the cleanest air, the most beautiful scenery, and some great people.
I appreciate all of the expert testimony that I heard today, and the time and energy that has gone into it by so many people. I'm not an expert. I can only speak now as a grandmother and a senior citizen for our grandchildren and other senior citizens who will be effected by this air quality if it should change.
My dream was to bring my children and grandchildren to visit and to play on the lovely little lake that it sits on. Because of the possible looming disaster of a huge sprawling factory with a smoke stack taller than the Statue of Liberty, and 6 and a half mile high plume of toxic waste chemicals my dream may not be possible. My Home is in the epicenter of this disaster. I could not invite my children and grandchildren to Columbia County to inhale any part of 20 million pounds of toxic particulate matter into their little lungs. If SLC -- I'm sorry. I call it SLC. If the SLC plant gets approved I will be forced to sell my home, at a great loss probably, or just give it back to the mortgage company and go into bankruptcy because it may be unsaleable due to its proximity to SLC's plant. Because I'm allergic to airborne pollutants I would be forced to move out of this area and live in senior housing in another area. I read recently that there would be very few, actually today, only one new job available for local residents.
Is it worth getting a free hot dog, T shirt, or even being paid a hundred dollars to wear it and sit at this hearing if our heritage, our health and our children's health is going to be sacrificed? I think not.
I have joined Friends of Hudson and Concerned Women of Claverack, and have vowed to do everything humanly possible to prevent St. Lawrence Cement from locating their plant in our prospering, clean, high density population of Hudson, New York. Let's help to save Columbia County and send St. Lawrence Cement to a low density area; maybe Antarctica. (Applause).
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Cynthia Richardson. Jock Spivy.
JOCK SPIVY: Judge Goldberger. I own 2 houses that are on the National Register in Columbia County, and I pay more than 12,000 in a year in local taxes, which is a good amount for an individual but doesn't represent much if one is a corporation, particularly a large international wealthy one. And to put St. Lawrence's contribution into the county in perspective, it would only take 40 people like me to equal what this giant corporation says it is going to do for Columbia County when it is time to pay the tax bill.
Columbia County is not wealthy like Westchester, Suffolk or some other parts of the state, but it has been doing pretty well lately. In April the unemployment rate was 2.3 percent, which when I was studying economics at Yale was described as being virtually impossible because full employment happened at 4%.
And we have heard from owners of local businesses that it is very difficult to get anybody to do any kind of job because the only people who don't have jobs in Columbia County are people who want to be unemployed, at least at this time.
The point is we don't need a cement plant to prosper. Of course we need good jobs. And the rise in real estate values has had an enormous amount to do with the overall prosperity and has created an enormous number of very good, very solid, highly skilled jobs that are supporting people very well at this time.
And the overall welfare of the county is going to be dependent upon not only on what happens here but also what happens in the larger economy, what happens in the financial markets and so on. And if the general economy holds up, we can do well and we don't need a cement plant in order to be prosperous.
I have not heard of one single architect or real estate person who is in favor of this plan. Home values will drop permanently in this neighborhood, which will hurt the overall tax base along with all of the many people who are connected to all of the real estate industries and everything that goes with them. Tourism, which is a growing and vital part of activity in Columbia County, will suffer because who will want to make a special trip to see a cement plant.
Finally, there is the destruction of the overall quality of life that comes along with this, which many people have described. and altogether it would be disaster to inflict all this on one of the great beauty spots in America.
So please don't let them build this plant.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Linda Hanlon. Fayal Greene.
FAYAL GREENE: Thank you, Your Honor. Can you hear me.
I was not actually born in the Hudson River Valley, but my husband was. He was born in Bondville. His father came to the Hudson Valley at the age of 15 to New Hackensack in 1915. He was a career Army guy who then worked for Central Hudson Free Utility after he retired from the Army. So, when I was pregnant with my twins in 1967 we moved up here, and were here part time until 3 years ago I was able to move to Claverack full time.
I came to Claverack and I came to Columbia County for the same reasons that everyone that has spoken did. It is very beautiful. It is a wonderful quality of life. It is full of excellent people, but I've been here a long time. I remember the cement plant. I remember what Hudson looked like. I remember stopping when my husband used to come up on the train and I'd pick him up. And I remember one winter night as I picked him up and we started up Warren Street, and he said God this place is a dump. And I said get out of this car and look up, and look at what Hudson could be. Now we see it. And if it is covered again with the gray grit it will not be like that. It will not be worth anyone's time to be here.
I have read with fascination the many letters which SLC kindly offered to write for their supporters in the Independent and other papers. And I have one here from the latest issue, which I think encapsulates the arguments, which I will go through quickly because I think we've heard them all a million times. But there are a couple of small things that I think -- It says we will all benefit from cleaner air, cleaner water, an improved landscape, more jobs, an improved economy and lower taxes. Well, cleaner air and cleaner water maybe on the other side of the river, possibly, certainly not around Hudson, and for sure not in Claverack.
Improved landscape. Well, landscape is a matter of taste. I look out cross my neighborhood's fields. I live right in the village of Claverack right on 23B, and I see the ridge line and then over the ridge line I see the Catskills. I have the opportunity to enjoy the improvement of the 400 foot stack. It is not a stack; it is a large building, which will dominate my landscape as it will of many people on both sides of the river. So I don't call that an improvement, but if that's your taste that's your taste and you are entitled to it.
More jobs? I guess not.
Improvement economy, maybe.
Lower taxes, I really don't think so because my understanding of how the county taxes work in this county at least are that they go largely to Medicaid and road maintenance. Well, if we have an increase in pollution caused illnesses, and with the admitted increase in traffic, most of which is going to go practically through my living room so I have to declare a vested interest. But still, I doubt very much that the amount of money of 40 job hirings is going to make up the slack. I think we're all going to be asked to contribute to both of those causes.
Of course, I'm distressed by the divide and conquer tactics, by the lies, and so on and so forth. But that is kind of the standard for this sort of multi national corporation with no say whatsoever really in our locality.
I respect the fact that the people who work in Catskill today and have excellent jobs would like to keep those excellent jobs. Why in the world wouldn't they. But I don't hear them asking to have the plant kept in Catskill. If they move to our side of the river it will be down wind of them. Is that right? Yes. So they will be getting the pollution in Claverack, and they with the prevailing west wind will indeed have far less pollution.
And I thank you to your time and interest.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: I'm going to adjourn for a half an hour. We are going to be reconvening at 7:00. (Recess taken).
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE GOLDBERGER: I have to apologize to those of you who have been sitting here since late this morning. I'm going to -- this is the evening session and many of you who have come in and weren't here earlier I'm going to have to repeat my preliminary remarks. For those of you who have heard them already, I apologize. Good evening everybody. (Repeats formal notices and instructions for hearing. Phil Lochbrunner repeats his statement for SLC.)
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Thank you. I'd like to next call upon Robert Lesley of the Department of Environmental Conservation.
ROBERT LESLEY: Thank you, ALJ Goldberger. Good evening. My name is a Robert Lesley. I am the regional attorney for the Region 4 office of the Department of Environmental Conservation. Here with me today is Mike Higgins, a permit analyst from the Department and Steven Shasler, the Region 4 regional director for the Department. Mr. Higgins is the Department's project manager for the St. Lawrence Cement Plant application. The Department is serving as the lead agency for the sake of the review of the cement plant proposed by St. Lawrence Cement.
On February 18, 1999 the applicant submitted a long form environmental assessment form. The Department staff issued a positive declaration on April 8, 1999. On June 24 1999, Department staff held a public scoping session to determine which issues should be included as part of the environmental impact statement to be prepared.
After scoping was completed in November of 1999, St. Lawrence Cement submitted the initial draft environmental impact statement to the department on March 7 of 2000. Department staff reviewed and commented on several revisions to the DEIS submitted by St. Lawrence. Until after more than 13 months of review and revision Department staff deemed the draft environmental impact statement acceptable and adequate for public review and comment on May 2 of 2001. Throughout this process the Department has had many staff members involved in a project review. Staff members reviewed each of the various applications and the draft environmental impact statement and have strived to do as thorough a job as possible. Department regulations provide for public comment and this legislative hearing to allow the Department to seek input from public and other agencies. Department staff have received numerous letters, both in opposition and in support of this project, and staff will continue to welcome comment through the end of the comment period. Thank you.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Thank you. The applicant has made available an interpreter this evening. Mr. Silviano DeLuca who can interpret in either Spanish or French, if needed. Mr. DeLuca, did you want to make just a brief statement.
MR. DELUCA: Thank you. (Statement given in French and Spanish.)
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: I just want to say one more thing before we get started again. We have many, many cards of people who were here this afternoon and didn't get to speak as yet and that's where I'm going to pick up. I beg you to try to be as concise in your statements as possible so that everybody here will have a chance to speak who wishes to this evening. Thank you. Mike Dodig.
MR. DODIG: Good evening, Judge. I've been here since 12:30, patiently listening to all of the pros and cons of this project. If I didn't know better, I would think St. Lawrence Cement is building a nuclear bomb and getting ready to detonate it. It's unbelievable. They talk about they're not building an air quality plant here. Well, I'm here to tell you if they were building an air quality plant that would purify the air of the whole Hudson Valley there would still be people out there who were against it.
I've lived in this area all my life. 56 years. My family is a cement family. I've heard doctors talk about the ill effects of the cement, well, my grandfather was with Alpha Cement Plant. 57 years at the Alpha Cement Plant and he lived until he was 97 years old. Two uncles, one for 46 years, one for 48 years. Both lived into their late eighties. So the adverse affects of the people in Cementon, I lived there at one one time. I live in Saugerties now. I don't see them dying here. No greater than any other part of the state. The doctors claim that your quality control is not good enough. Well, he said you meet people that die, but you're going to meet people, you might possibly meet people, many people die at 55 miles an hour. The doctors should be lobbying the state to lower it to 35 because that's what he's saying. He's saying your qualities aren't good enough. The 55 speed limit is too fast.
The only other part of the hearing I heard and didn't like -- and I heard more that I didn't like, I heard some of the hard-working St. Lawrence Cement employees say that they are St. Lawrence Cement and they are, but I also heard them say St. Lawrence Cement allowed them to send some of their children to school. Brothers, they didn't allow you, you earned what you got and you probably don't make enough as you should make. Thank you.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Patrick Dilber and then Bill Hamilton. Bill Hamilton. Betsy Hamilton. Robert O'Brien. John Flynn. ROBERT O'BRIEN: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, judges. My name is Robert O'Brien. I'm an alderman from the first ward. My ward comprises of the waterfront area where St. Lawrence would like to load and unload their ships, as well as the docks and conveyor belt. I recently have been polling my constituents in my neighborhood, and I live in a very small ward, we have many elderly people who are hard working. We also have a few families. And my poll results are as this. I had an even number of people that were in support of the plant; I had an even number of people that were against the plant; and I had a large number of people that were undecided. I was interested in what they had to say. And I asked my questions like this, just to let you know how my poll was conducted.
Good afternoon. My name is Robert O'Brien. I'm your alderman. I want to know your opinion on an important matter affecting all of us in our district. My question is: As you know, the St. Lawrence Cement Plant plans to build a large cement plant in this town of Greenport with operations in the city of Hudson. Are you in support of this, are you against this, or have you not had a chance to make an opinion on this matter at this time? I asked the question in a most unbiased way. There were no leading discussions prior to this. And my results were an equal amount for, an equal against, and a sizable, sizable number of people who were undecided. In doing some follow-up questions with the undecided people, I found that a very large majority of them said, you know, I'm old, this is your future, I really shouldn't say what I feel about this. I had a number of people tell me this. Some of them have absolutely no idea what this project is about and did not wish to give an opinion. And these are -- this is not a judgment, this is what I found.
Now as a result of this, and some hard thinking, I myself have to represent my constituents as best as I can, and with all due respect to all the people that have raised families, currently raising families with the employment that St. Lawrence is providing and perhaps even families that may depend on St. Lawrence for their livelihoods as an indirect beneficiary of their jobs they have created here, I would have to respectfully submit that I, as a representative of the first ward in the city of Hudson, cannot support this endeavor. Excuse me. This is not, this is not a popularity contest or anything like that. This is a very serious matter which I have given some series concern. My big concern is, first, the proximity of the plant, the massiveness of the operation, and the length that this plant could be in operation, as well as the DEC's less than enviable track record in enforcement throughout the state, as well as our federal government's inability to uphold regulations that are set to protect our health.
Based on these factors, I feel strongly that I cannot support this plant at this time. Thank you very much for your time.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: John Flynn. And after Mr. Flynn, Jean Giblette.
MR. FLYNN: Good evening. I just wanted to pass comment on something said a number of times this afternoon about the height of the proposed stack. The elevation of the intersection at the traffic light in Hillsdale is 750 feet, so for those who know the county, put things in perspective, the proposed smoke stack that the cement company intends to build will be level with the traffic light in Hillsdale. I hadn't planned on that. The Swiss cement company has retained a propaganda outfit named, their representative is Pepi LaPue, or that's what I call them anyway. He writes these letters for others to sign. And there's a recurrent theme through the whole thing that these newcomers are those who oppose this wonderful plant. And in quotation marks these awful newcomers.
I was born here in 1931. My mother was born here in 1893, so my grandfather was born in Saugerties in 1853, eight years before the Civil War began, so we've been around for a while. I leave my feathers at home, but I consider myself a native. So who are the newcomers? Certainly, a Swiss cement company. And certainly, the present owners of the Register Star, who support the Swiss cement company to the very best of their ability and they're owned by the Johnson Publishing Company, which is in upper New York state near the Canadian border, so they're pretty safe.
The Swiss engage in one thing and have one primary interest and that is making money. That is what they propose to do here. All of those letters saying that, oh, we need the employment and we need this and we need that, of course there will be no new employment. The reason for the Swiss proposing to construct this plant is that it will be at least three and a third times larger than the plant they have in Cementon with the same number of people. So they will decrease their production costs by at least 70 percent. There will be 70 percent less work input per ton of cement produced. And if anyone considers that my categorizing the Swiss as being interested in money, this is history.
When the Nazis invaded Denmark they issued and edict that all Jews were to wear a Star of David on their clothing. The next day Christian X, the King of Denmark appeared in public with the Star of David on his coat and all the days followed suit. And Denmark, of all the occupied countries in Europe, the Jews survived the best. Now when Jews fled Germany and came to the Swiss border, if they made it, if they didn't have enough money on them the Swiss turned them back. And those who were admitted to Switzerland land when their money ran out the Swiss sold them back to the Nazis to be exterminated. These are the people who have our interest at heart and propose to operate in Columbia County. Thank you.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: After Ms. Giblette, Stan Borgen.
JEAN GIBLETTE: Your Honors, my name is Jean Giblette. I was born and reared in rural Minnesota. I traveled a lot in my younger days in the U.S. and in 1990 I chose to make my home in Columbia County because it offered the rural and community values of my childhood. This represented a deep commitment from me and my partner, and we have worked very hard to maintain our home here and to pay our taxes ever since.
In addition, in the past decade I have built a new enterprise here in Columbia County called High Falls Gardens, which is exploring the possibility of growing Chinese medicinal herbs for the new profession of acupuncture and oriental medicine. Members of this profession in the U.S. are keenly interested in domestic production of medicinal herbs because now all the herbs are imported from China. It is well known that China is heavily using coal for fuel, is dumping industrial waste into its groundwater and is using pesticides and herbicides extensively on its crops.
Just to let you know that medicinal herb production is not an airy fairy fantasy, since we started High Falls Gardens in 1993 the number of licenses issued to practitioners of acupuncture and oriental medicine in the U.S. has tripled, making it the fastest growing health profession in the U.S. There are now over 40 accredited colleges of acupuncture and oriental medicine in this country. The growth of this profession has been fueled by direct payments from health care consumers, many of whom turn to oriental medicine only after receiving other kinds of treatment.
I am telling you all of this because I see new jobs in the future for Columbia County. Many thousands of new practitioner jobs have been created already nationally. In addition, I see excellent potential from medicinal plant production, including new cash crops for existing farms and on-farm and local value added processing. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has given partial funding for High Falls Gardens for the past four years because of this potential. Columbia County has the great advantage of ready access to the huge markets of New York City and could also house processing and distribution facilities and training programs that would bring hundreds of practitioners into the county for continuing educational credits. The problem is that my economic developments scenario and that of St. Lawrence Cement are mutually exclusive. While I see nothing incompatible in having medicinal plant production facilities being located near an appropriately scaled, non-polluting, responsibly managed cement factory, the St. Lawrence proposal is not that. I have looked at the DEIS and its obvious that the huge size of the proposal and the fact that it, on the whole it will be more polluting is very problematic.
In addition, the behavior of the public relations campaign of this company during the past few months has shown me that it is not a responsible owner. In my new industry, market perception will dictate that our production facilities are located in clean areas. I find it ironic that St. Lawrence is threatening to take away existing jobs if they are not given their permits here and to relocate them to countries which will allow pollution, whereas I am opposing to found a new industry here because it is cleaner.
I also find puzzling the attitude of the employees of St. Lawrence who have testified. I do not believe that we need to depend on multinational corporations for our living. I think that we can create our own jobs. In summary, I can't offer anyone a job right now, although I recommend to high school and college students in the audience that they look closely at the profession of acupuncture and oriental medicine for a career option. But on the other hand, I am speaking to you as a resident of this county, a taxpayer and an entrepreneur who is participating in the present diversified economy here and not as an employee or guest of a multinational corporation. We're at a big fork in the road here, justices, and I'm counting on my fellow citizens, including you, to choose a future that will benefit all of us. Thank you.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Stan Borgen. Thomas Mabley. Ellen Thurston. After Ms. Thurston, Hannah Williamson.
MR. MABLEY: What about me? Mabley.
LAW JUDGE:. Mabley. Okay. Thomas Mabley.
THOMAS MABLEY: I've, since midafternoon I've had a note on my piece of paper to remind myself to remind you that when you are taking your site inspection trip, which I gather is coming up soon, it will be very helpful to you and to the cause of clear and fair information for the plant to put those balloons up which mark the height of their towers. My name is Tom Mabley and I have owned a home in Hudson for 22 years. Before retiring I was a senior creative officer at several of the country's largest advertising agencies, though I'm proud to say that my last pro bono campaign was for Hudson's excellent all-volunteer Fire Department.
A subject I'd like to briefly discuss is one we heard a lot about this afternoon, and perhaps I can help put a finer point on it, and that was the role of advertising and St. Lawrence's effort to win community and governmental support for the proposed new plant. It's a long story to make short. Two years of TV, radio, newspaper and direct mail ads all proclaiming cleaner air, brought to you by St. Lawrence Cement, the folks dedicated to doing it right, to earn your trust. Earning your trust apparently includes an insidious letter campaign purportedly from a hundred or so citizen-supporters around the county, all with remarkable similar writing styles, like-minded thoughts to share, uncanny insight into St. Lawrence strategy, and the same down-home logic, including, at times, stereotyping bordering on what I call commercialized hate mail. The fact is that you could find all the copy for this campaign--ads and letters--on the same hard drive at SLC's office. I imagine by now you could also find their ads on the desk of a case officer at the Federal Trade Commission, where I firmly believe it belongs. Now using so-called "typical" emission levels instead of EIS limits and by ignoring the critical distinction between region-wide pollution and local pollution at ground zero, under a stack that would pour out 25 tons of pollution, not in a year, or a month, but every single day, this advertising makes a strongly repetitive claim of cleaner air for everyone, with little birds fluttering over the smoke stack. Watch out fellas. It's a rosy picture--almost as rosy as the beaker full of red liquid that Dr. Christopher Teiff holds up in his laboratory commercial for SLC. The bet at our house is whether it's red dye #3 or cranberry juice.
Always we're told that SLC wants "to earn our trust." Trusting them to produce cement at their "typical" pollution levels, levels for which the public has no guarantee and which SLC is in no way mandated to follow, is what I call "sending lettuce by rabbit." For this company to drive "45 miles per hour in a 65 mile per hour speed limit" is contrary to St. Lawrence's track record, and to the relentless pursuit of profit by their multinational masters, and also contrary to human nature itself.
The relevance, Your Honors, to the issues here today is that if SLC's advertising has been so consistently deceptive and misleading as to lead a significant portion of the community--particularly among the 15,000 people within a two mile radius of the new plant site--to believe that the air we breathe will actually be cleaner and better for us, then citizens of Hudson, Greenport and Claverack and their respective governments are owed an explanation and a correction, delivered with the same communications weight as the original misinformation.
I am confident that in the course of your hearings, the debate over emission levels will be settled in the light of a simple reality--that there is only one realistic standard of emission levels: Those that are permitted by the people and their government, permitted by the people and their government. If SLC is so confident of its "typical" or "projected" levels, let them put their money where their mouth is and lower the permit limits in their next EIS. Let them put their money where the lungs of our children are, where the hearts of elders are. Let them burn clean gas, not dirty coal, or possibly tires. Let them reduce the scale and capacity of this misconceived and miscalculated mistake.
The nearly six thousand people who have signed our petition don't want this area to become the second scourge of the Hudson Valley. Let SLC go back to Cementon, the site they've already wrecked and clean up the incredile mess they made. Let them build a modern, sensitively scaled plant there, away from the river--out of sight of Olana, not on top of it. Let them be a good corporate citizen. Indeed, not through deception. Most of the time it really doesn't work. The other day I asked my postman if he thought St. Lawrence was "doing it right, and earning your trust?" "Nah, " he said "so far they've only insulted my intelligence." Thank you. ELLEN THURSTON: My name is Ellen Thurston and I own and live in a house in the 300 block of Warren Street in Hudson. Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the St. Lawrence Cement proposal. I have many questions about this proposal, but choose instead to comment on the character of the company and its social responsibility, both now and in the future. My main concern is the arrogant and cynical way St. Lawrence Cement has dealt with the public in the past few years while it has attempted to sell its project to the community. While the company's attitude toward the public may not be illegal, with the exception of possibly misleading statements in their advertisements, their actions offer us a picture of how they will treat the community in the future.
Let me give you a few examples. St. Lawrence Cement persuaded our local elected officials to establish a so-called "community forum" which the company paid for and controlled. During the course of the forum, which ran over a number of weeks, the company withheld information and evaded questions from both forum members and the public. Microphones didn't work, information was badly presented. Too often we heard "We'll consider it," never to be heard from again. "We'll have to get back to you on that," never to be heard from again. And when time ran out for questions from the public, which it did far too often, we were told that if we put our questions in writing the answers would be made available at the public library. This never happened. The forums were so badly run and in places inaccessible to so many people that they were badly attended. Even members of the forum itself stopped coming. This forum was a sham. So when the company says that it has informed the public in any meaningful way, it is wrong.
St. Lawrence Cement has tried to sell the public on this project through an advertising campaign reported to have cost $25,000 a month. Half-page ads in the local newspapers now use headlines with one and a half inch type. In these ads, the company claims that 155 people will be employed in the Greenport/Hudson operation. Meanwhile, SLC's own consultant, at the community forum, informed us that this operation really should be referred to as a job retention program, not a job creation program. There will be no new jobs, yet the company has effectively duped a segment of the community into believing that there will be. Does this company have a conscience? Even if there were new jobs, no mention is made of the technical skills involved, or of what will happen when fewer workers are required because of new technology which will inevitably come along. In another misleading statement, the company claims in its ads that it will create over 600 jobs. Now that figure keeps changing, but the last time I heard it was over 600 jobs during the construction phase, but fails to inform the public as to who will be employed. Aren't these highly skilled jobs that will be filled with trained construction workers from outside the area? This question was asked, but not answered.
In it advertisements the company lied about the amount of taxes they will pay to the School District and had to issue an ad to correct their misstatement. These lies and misrepresentations lead me to ask the question-- what else have they lied about or misrepresented or exaggerated for their own benefit in their environmental impact statement.
There's more. The company sends us postcards and newsletters, all beautifully written and presented. The company's message is also sent through another organization called Hudson Valley Environmental/Economic Coalition (HVEEC). The HVEEC mailings, also beautifully designed, strangely use the exact same language as the company's and the same graphics, and are mailed from Albany, just as the company's are. Is this a coincidence? SLC has staged family community days with free hotdogs and pony rides. They have doled out contributions to community groups for Grandparents' Day at the school, to the little league, to a jazz festival, for the Flag Day fireworks. Suddenly the stonehouse on the edge of their property is landscaped and spruced up and given to the local historical society. Suddenly, money is given for a town park in Greenport. Where were these neighborly gestures for the many years the company owned the property and allowed it to deteriorate? Why now? Why are they offering free t-shirts, caps, bumper stickers and signs all in support of the plant? Why have they, admittedly, ghostwriten letters to the editor in support of the plant to our local newspapers? Why do they need to sell the public? In the words of Shakespeare, Do they protest too much? St. Lawrence Cement claims to be a good neighbor, yet they have left piles of rotting railroad ties in their property within sight of Route 9G and the gateway to the City. Is this being a good neighbor? St. Lawrence Cement has left a rusting silo by the Hudson River next to the city's new recreational area. SLC has said that this will be removed if the new plant is built. They have also said that they will not remove it, if the plant is not built. Is this being a good neighbor? Why won't the company sign written legal guarantees that they will never, never burn hazardous waste, medical waste, or tires in their kilns, or transport it on our roads. If they don't intend to do this, as they say, then why won't they put it in writing? Frankly, I don't trust that they will do what they say they will, and then what recourse will the community have? I'll tell you what I do believe. In addition to the health risks they will provide, I believe they will be a constant source of irritation through noise and dust, a blight on the landscape, and a threat to our economy. The few jobs and small amount of taxes this plant might generate are not worth the irreparable harm to the community. And finally I'd like to add a postscript and say to Mr. Lochbrunner, I hope he will issue an invitation to Mr. Schmidheiny of the company to come here and look us in the eye and tell us the same things that the public relations campaign is telling us. Thank you.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Hannah Williamson. Chloe Zerwick. Moisha Blechman. You are.
MS. BLECHMAN: Moisha Blechman.
Good evening to everybody and to Judge Goldberger. Thank you very much. My Name is Moisha Blechman. I have been living here off and on for the last 29 years and have come to know the valley very well and parts east, and of course am very much in my soul wedded to it, and so are my children. When we go into a court of law placed in a large banner over the judge are the words "In God We Trust." Here for the proceedings of today I think we should have a large banner for all to see the mission in law of the Department of Environmental Conservation as a standard for an evaluation of all the remarks being made today. It's, I quote, "Conserve, improve and protect" it's meaning New York state's natural resources and environment and control water, land and air pollution in order to enhance the health, safety and overall economic and social well being of the people of this state. This is the mandate. Therefore, I am asking you, Judge Goldberger, to make your recommendation in accordance with that mission written in law. Of the little I have heard of the DEIS I have found it shallow, to be wanting in several ways. I would like to bring your attention to just a few of those ways. First, I want to know how the DEC can properly evaluate and/or make a recommendation on an important function of the plant that is unresolved. In volume 2 A-3 SLC says weight of mind is not limited to existing permits. The DEC says that what they are maintaining is historically 2 million tons per year. The St. Lawrence plant says it can substantially increase the rate of activity. In fact in volume 219 SLC maintains it has operating authority up to 6,100,000 tons per year that they in fact anticipate mining. Which is it? This appears totally unresolved and the difference is four million tons per year. Remember that because back in volume 2 A-3 the DEIS said even at 2 million tons there will be a negative impact on ground water, traffic, air quality and noise. So I think if that is the case at 2 million what then is it at 6,100,000 tons per year. The DEIS does not say. It seems to me this must be resolved. In volume 2 A-17 the plant has offered no mention of the fact the emissions will change the chemical composition of the soil. The EIS acts as if the change is merely a physical disturbance to reconstructed plants. There needs to be an analysis in the EIS of the chemical alteration of the soils and waters and how the vegetation will also change, which of course will alter what is possible in terms of wildlife. I could find no such analysis in the EIS where reclamations was discussed. It is necessary to model this chemical alteration after one year, after five years, after ten, 20, etc. years to 100. Is reclamation a feasible concept after ten years even? A progressive analysis of the chemical composition of the soil and then its plant and impact on animals need to be included in the EIS.
In volume 2 A-29 it says that some of the wetlands, particularly in the mine area, show evidence of drainage pattern alterations as a result of mining. There is no place in the EIS that evaluates what will happen with 6,100,000 tons mined annually? I find that needs to be a part of the DEIS. Experts have said the mining will devastate the aquifer. This is very serious all by itself, and this is your mission to protect for the people of New York, the aquifer here. Officially volume 2 A-17 says the final elevation of the 300 foot hill will end up at between 190 to 160 feet. So the question is what happens to the many water courses like Kashaway Creek Calver Creek Mud Creek (phonetic) and Taghkanic Creek plus other fresh water wetlands owned by SLC and subject to mine.
To other problem the DEC needs to address in the DEIS is what happens when it makes a recommendation. It must remember it's mission is to protect. In the DEIS there is not a single section heading entitled climate change or global warming. In view of the catastrophic consequences they're trying to change everywhere in the world, including Columbia County, and in view of the projected burning 250,000 metric tons annually of coal there needs to be a solid exposition of this problem in the DEIS. 250 of our most eminent scientists signed open letters to the American people on May 18, 2001. They say the U.S. is now viewed internationally as an environmental pariah. Burning 250,000 metric tons annually of coal is not consistent with -- is inconsistent with the absolute need to cut green house emissions by 80 percent, if we are to survive on this planet. The SLC needs to address this issue squarely in the DEIS. In the DEIS there's not a single section heading entitled acid rain or the effects of 4,100 tons or 8,244,000 pounds of nitrous oxide annually on the forest cover of the northeast United States. An analysis must be made of current forest help now and then the impact of more emissions from SLC after five years, ten years, 20 years to a hundred years. At this time the indigenous trees such as the sugar maple are dying due to acid rain. The birch, the lack lotus, the native dogwood and hemlock are all immune system compromised and falling prey to insect infestation due to industrial emissions. Nowhere in the EIS is there a projection of which diseases are vulnerable to extinction due to accelerated toxic emissions.
Nowhere in the EIS is there a discussion of the downwind states of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont will be -- and southern Columbia County will be effected. What is the 40 story stack for except to disperse the 25 ton daily load of toxic emissions as far and wide as possible? But after 100 years how much more mercury will there be in the lakes of Massachusetts, for example. There is no discussion or analysis of the soil species mortality due to removal of the overburden. The word itself is revealing. SLC describes all that part of the topography that nourishes life and humanity, namely the water, the soil, the shrubs, the trees as overburden. SLC is interested only in what nature chose to burn. But for humanity and all other species the overburden is life and the mission of the state of DEC is to protect not destroy the overburden.
There's no analysis in the EIS of the effects of a major industrial 40 acre skyscraper sitting on migrating birds. The Hudson River is a major avian flyway. Remember that entire flock of migrating birds died in mid air over Mexico City due to pollution. The dust, the high toxic plume and the skyscrapers themselves pose a threat to the birds.
On May 10, 1942 FDR and a few friends arose at four a.m. to count bird feces and did so until nine p.m. the list was incredibly long and included many, many species we no longer see. 50 years from now how many of the birds migrating now will we see? We need to have a thorough accounting in that EIS. Judge Goldberger, from the facts and the questions presented to you today, can you say that St. Lawrence Cement and the mission of the DEC is sympathetic and congruent. Is not the upholding of the mission of the DEC as written in New York state law to conserve, to improve and to protect its natural resources a complete contradiction to operating a huge cement plant. I thank you very much.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Rayna Caldwell. Lorie Stone. Noah Fischel. And after Mr. Fischel, Carrie Furtig.
NOAH FISCHEL: Good evening, Your Honor. Most of what I have to stay tonight in my speech has been covered in the afternoon session as well as in the evening, but it hasn't been said by me, so I'm just going to say it.
My name is Noah Fischel. I'm 25 years old and I am a full time resident in Hudson. I grew up in this area and always considered myself lucky to be surrounded by natural beauty and a strong community, but now both of these things I hold dear are threatened by St. Lawrence Cement Company and I must speak out against it. I'd also like to say I feel that I have been heard because the public officials who are supposed to represent me are silent. They have been coerced to keep quiet and are not doing their jobs. In a city divided over this issue our public officials are not representing our portion.
Almost two years ago I received a kidney transplant and ever since I have been painfully aware of the health risks that this cement plant poses to myself and us all, but mostly to people like myself and to children. St. Lawrence Cement pours millions into radio advertising that lie and say our air will be cleaner if they build one of the largest cement plants in the world and less than 1300 yards from our drinking water in Hudson.
How can any of us here tonight be expected to make an informed decision when we are being force fed lies through the radio, the mail and newspapers. The doctors of this community have spoken out against the plant saying it will increase death rates and poor health. Here you have information and a chance to prevent yet another human catastrophe, so please listen. We will not be sacrificed. This is the stuff of depressing movies, Your Honor. Small town falls prey to big industry and only later, only later is it discovered that that industry is making people sick. But here you have a chance to stop it before it begins. Don't let this become another tragic movie script.
Two months ago I received Hudson's annual drinking water report in the mail. It states that anybody in a weakened condition or with a weakened immune system should not drink the water, our drinking water that is. If St. Lawrence Cement builds this plant I won't be able to breathe the air either. Who cares how many jobs there are if the drinking water and the air we breathe makes us sick.
I also have another fear that St. Lawrence Cement is proposing this ridiculous monster project only so that when they later concede to down scale it, it won't look so bad. We don't want any cement factory, no matter how small.
Over and over again in this society we see human life ruined for the sake of corporate profit. Please stop this pattern and give life the value it deserves because we don't need better medicine we need clean water to drink, good food to eat and clean air to breathe. Thank you. CARRIE FERTIG: My name is Carrie Fertig. I am a homeowner in Livingston. I live in in this beautiful -- can you hear it? I live in Columbia County because I think it's very, very beautiful. I would like it to remain beautiful. And you, Your Honor, have to decide the air that we, all of us red shirts and blue shirts are going to create for decades and the water that we're going to drink for decades to come and I beg you to please decide that that will be clean air and clean water. Thank you.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Dan Grandinetti. And then Steven Sorman.
DAN GRANDINETTI: Your Honor, I represent a district that connects to the cement plant. We live close to the cement plant as any district in the city of Hudson, and I guess what I have to say is I take exception to the fact that as a public official I have spoken out, so all public officials have not remained silent. Some have, some haven't. But this issue isn't as easy as some would like to make believe. It's become a very contentious issue and it's scared people away from the issue. So I beg most people to leave the personalities out of it and let's just deal with the issue. But what I want to speak about is, is this a good thing for Hudson or not, or a good thing for Columbia County or not. And I'll give you some statistics financially in the city of Hudson. Ten years ago the city of Hudson had a $500,000 deficit. Ten years later we have almost a $2 million surplus. Columbia County this past year alone had over $90 million more in assessed value, which is more than the plant itself. I read in the paper Sunday where they said that it may be better for the region but it's definitely going to be a big impact on an area in a 2.5 mile radius, give or take a couple of miles. And I submit to you Greene County the two mile radius has about 500 people in it out of 40,000 population, which I guess puts a little over one percent. Now the two and a half mile radius in Columbia County will equate to at least 15 to 20,000 people in a 60,000 population which means we're talking over 20 percent. So the impact is going to be much greater on Columbia County with a very thriving business, a very thriving economy and leads me to the issue of gas versus coal, which is purely nothing more than an economic issue for the plant. I submit to you that gas, to my recollection, burns no mercury and no sulphur dioxide. So if we burn gas we wouldn't be here talking about if it's going to be cleaner than gas or not. We wouldn't have none of it. So what I would say to you is that it's very important that the economic impact that this plant will cause on our community we should be the ones to worry about the economic impact further down. I understand that fuel is a third of cost to cement making industry. And I understand that fuel today is probably higher than it's ever been before, but I say to you that they should be the ones to deal with the economic impacts, not us.
So I say to you, look at the issues, look at the economic situation that this county is in right now and look where we're heading and I believe that at this stage of the game this plant is not going to compliment what we have. I thank you and have a good night.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Steven Sorman. Katherine Korin. After Ms. Korin, Robert Montgomery. KATHERINE KORIN: Good evening. I'm Kate Korin, the executive director of Hudson River Heritage. Founded 27 years ago Hudson River Heritage is a nonprofit organization committed to preserving the unique character of the mid-Hudson Valley's historic architecture, rural landscapes and scenic viewsheds throughout the city and education. In the summer of 2000 the National Trust for Historic Preservation named the Hudson Valley to its list of America's most endangered historic places. When announcing its selection the National Trust characterized the region as "a mix of scenery and history that is unmatched anywhere else in the country," and noted the great threat posed to this rich legacy by proposed large scale industrial facilities and encroaching sprawl.
It's disconcerting to know that such threats have arisen not at the ebb tide of our appreciation for the Hudson but virtually at its high water mark. In 1996 the Hudson Valley was designated a national heritage area. In 1998 the Hudson River was named one of the very first American Heritage Rivers. New York state identified the viewshed from the national historic landmark Olana as a scenic area of statewide significance. The state office of Historic Preservation itself has just nominated the Plumb-Bronson House in Hudson for National Historic Landmark status, which is expected to be granted in September. Further, the same office, SHPO, declared that "this stretch of the Hudson contains some of the finest, as well as the densest concentration of historical landmarks in the entire state." Just to the south of Olana and the proposed cement facilities lies the Hudson River National Historic Landmark District. This thirty-two square mile Landmark District includes over 1,800 significant contributing features, among them Claremont State Historic Site and Montgomery Place, individually listed National Historic Landmarks, and Wilderstein, which is applying for National Historic Landmark status. Hudson River Heritage serves as a federally designated steward for this important district.
Why should we put this, our cultural heritage, the shared treasures of our nation, at risk? The massive facilities proposed by St. Lawrence Cement - an industrial city towering to 40 stories set atop a hill, an enormous mine, a two-mile long conveyor system, a bustling riverfront dock -- and the resultant traffic, noise, and air pollution would irreversibly despoil this great region which tells the story of America. Historically, industry does figure in that story, but circumstances and our very understanding of the effects of certain industries have advanced. A city has grown up in Hudson. A school and a hospital are but a stone's throw from St. Lawrence's proposed site. Farms and forests stretch beyond. Today, we do have a better understanding of the deadly health and environmental consequences of being neighbor to an enormous coal-burning cement plant and mine.
The regional economy has grown slowly but steadily as people, drawn by the incomparable scenic character, have made their way here for a day or a lifetime. This type of growth in Columbia County is a state-wide model for sustainable development, for the governor's won catch phrase "quality communities." We are learning that our historic and scenic resources have not only a fundamental cultural value, but immeasurable economic value. The St. Lawrence Cement Plant would not be an economic boon, but a bust, eroding the sustainable framework for progress now in place. Hudson River Heritage strongly opposes the St. Lawrence Cement Plant. We feel that the negative impacts to historic resources and the visual environment, to health and the natural environment, to community character and economic viability would be so severe, that no mitigation would be adequate, and thus no permit should be granted. As a result, Hudson River Heritage shall seek full party status in this DEC review as a member of the Community Preservation Coalition. This coalition unites important local and regional preservation and environmental organizations in concerted opposition to the St. Lawrence Cement facilities proposed for Hudson and Greenport. Members of the coalition include Citizens for the Hudson Valley, Clover Reach, Concerned Women of Claverack, Historic Hudson, Hudson Antique Dealers Association, Hudson River Heritage, National Resources Defense Council, and Scenic Hudson. Thank you very much, Judge Goldberger.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Robert Montgomery. Mary Elliott. Michael Belanger. Hannah Hanani. Are you Hanna.
HANNAH HANANI: Yes, I am.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Next will be Judy Grunberg.
HANNAH HANANI: I am vice president of an arts organization and I've been a resident of Columbia County for 21 years. This is a company that either has amnesia or is schizophrenic. There's an old saying that "if you're going to lie, you have to have a good memory.
I won't repeat remarks that already addressed their inflated claims for job at the cement company today, but I do want to discuss the issue of credibility. On Monday, June 11, I attended the same meeting that Warren Johnson spoke of earlier today. This was for the benefit of the African-American community in Hudson. It was hosted by St. Lawrence Cement with Phil Lochbruner, Christopher Teiff, the company toxicologist, and other functionaries. When asked about documented violations and fines to St. Lawrence/Holnam plants around North America, Phil Lochbruner said we are not Holnam or Holderbank or Holcim, the new name announced at the May shareholders' meeting. He disclaimed any corporate relationship between St. Lawrence and Holcim because the company will say absolutely anything to achieve their purpose. Even the most casual observer of this drama knows St. Lawrence Cement is the subsidiary of the Swiss parent company. Even Thomas Schmidheiny, the CEO of Holcim, who watched our protest in front of the Swiss Consulate in New York on April 25th knows it. But they will say coal is clean, cement production is dustless, no new jobs are additional jobs, real estate values will go up, the tourists will flock to see a blighted, destroyed landscape, that a six mile plume is invisible, that children who will be poisoned will enjoy higher school tax benefits.
It's well worth taking a look at the EIS, the only document, if approved, that St. Lawrence Cement will have to live by and the document we will have to live by or be sickened by.
Where is their EIS analysis of where truck traffic will really go, or what an additional 45,000 trucks per year will do to our roads, or who will pay for repairs or increased accidents? I live in the northern part of the county en route to Boston and points east. All they say is that 60 percent of traffic for Routes 9 and 23 will be eastbound. If it's bound for Boston, will it travel over Route 295, Route 203, Route 23, 41 to Great Barrington and Stockbridge? What are the facts? What is the truth? Our communities have a right to know what threatens our tranquility and access to roads. I think it was very sly that they give their analysis and they give speed limits and stop sign information at various intersections that we all know about and said there would be no impact but they did their surveys during the months of November and June when we don't have to contend with ice or snow.
And why hasn't there been a model of the facilities so that we can prepare ourselves for not a cement plant but a 40 acre industrial city. Is everyone in this room aware that in addition to the 40 story stack there will be 20 silos and other buildings that will rise anywhere from 23 to 38 stories in height? Where is the analysis of the rail freight traffic that will be an inevitable part of the project bringing additional pollution, noise and industrial ambience to the area? Maybe one tiny little paragraph for your information.
Caught in the act there are reports to admit they have a ghostwriter on staff to fill the pages of our newspapers with pseudo support, letters that each sound the same and drone on about what a "good neighbor" they will be. Operating with the highest need they have created a climate where freedom of speech and expression are being squelched. They've created a climate in which opposition billboards have been vandalized, where opposition columnists have been fired from a newspaper, where a formerly friendly county feels as though it's in the rips of civil war or uncivil war. They there are shameless in their minds and that doubles me.
They'll stop at nothing to try to make this heinous project happen. They want us to sacrifice our health, our children, our air, landscapes and our very future so they can bring corporate profits to shareholders back to Switzerland where a plant of this kind could never operate because it violates Swiss domestic environmental regulations.
In conclusion, I just want to say that this is as close as I've ever come to being under a system that employs intimidation and mind control. It doesn't whet my appetite for more. Thank you.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Can we have your statement. Hannah can we have your statement? Miss Grunberg. The next speaker will be Diane Perlmutter after Ms. Grunberg.
JUDY GRUNBERG: I can't speak as fluidly as others on the technical issues on the DEIS.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: You have to speak in closer to the mike.
JUDY GRUNBERG: Okay. Is that better? But I've been playing close attention to the arguments raised for and against the plant since the very beginning.
I moved to the Chatham area 36 years ago, a young mother with a very young family, to settle and make a nest. My youngest is, in fact, a native, having been born right here in Hudson nearly 33 years ago. 33 years ago. That's long. Of this he is understandably proud. I mention this only because, sadly, those who have been touting the wonders of the cement plant have either implied or openly stated that the only opposition to the Greenport Project is coming from "newcomers" or "weekenders" or "outsiders" whose opinions, it is suggested, are not to be taken seriously. I am neither of those, or none of those, I should say, though, in my opinion, anyone who makes a life in the community is entitled to an opinion. My family and friends have seen many changes over the years -- some for the better and some not. On balance, though, I would say that my hometown Chatham, which a little bit north of here, and the wider community which of course includes many other villages and towns and, especially, the City of Hudson, the very heart of the county, have improved considerably over time. There's a lot more diversity now than when I came. New people, fresh ideas, less automatic acceptance of the status quo, a new spirit of challenging entrenched power. This, of course, is seen as unacceptable by the people or institutions who are being challenged.
To silence its opponents, St. Lawrence has mounted a campaign designed to polarize the community. Whether "real folks vs. weekenders," "old-timers vs. newcomers" or folks who prefer Wal-Mart to antiques, this effort to reinforce a common stereotypes has been ongoing since it became clear that there was going to be opposition to the project, and has intensified as the time for decision-making approaches.
One has only to look at two of the most recent examples: One, a flyer handed out at the Lebanon Valley Speedway recently and grassed over now, quotes a paragraph from an ill-conceived article in New York Magazine (obviously written by someone who has very limited knowledge of this area) urging attendance, that's their right to urge attendance, but the flyer urgers attendance to a hearing because "if they (the rich New York weekenders) are successful in stopping the cement plant they will go after Lebanon Valley next." This is calculated to get a strong response because SLC is a financial sponsor of the Speedway. The not-so-subtle threat that they may not be around to hand out money, or the menacing prediction that those rich city folks are out to demolish the popular raceway, is a sure way to get folks rushing to their side. Never mind that many come from outside the state, let alone the county.
A glossy card that you've heard about several times today but I'll repeat it any way, a glossy card aimed at the group deemed most likely -.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: You have to speak clearer and slow down.
JUDY GRUNBERG: Okay. Sorry. A glossy card aimed to the group deemed most likely to be influenced says "Don't let a group of millionaires from New York City deny Columbia County good-paying jobs and a stronger economy." Hogwash, I say. I sympathize with the cement workers and their families who are only caught in the crossfire. A few courageous ones have dared to speak out but I think there's a lot of pressure not to. Mostly they have accepted what the company tells them. The promise of a better economy, whatever that means, the allusion to an earlier golden industrial age and age when, by the way, technology hadn't yet replaced a large and proud work force, is what they'd like to believe and who can blame them? It's important to have an enemy and the enemy is those of us who dare threaten the perception of the better life that SLC is thrusting upon us.
The class tension that simmers beneath the surface is not unique to Hudson. But, to its discredit, the company has been successful in harnessing and exploiting that tension to suit its only purpose -- to get the plant built whatever the cost.
It is unfortunately and strangely ironic that the plant supporters are suspicious of the motives of even those of us who have devoted our lives to this area, who've raised our children here, who care as deeply as they about this place we call Columbia County, but not of the motives of those who live comfortably thousands of miles away and know little and care less what happens in our backyards and neighborhoods.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Are you Diane Perlmutter.
DIANE PERLMUTTER: Yes, I am.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: After Ms. Perlmutter I would like Cassandra Danz to speak please.
DIANE PERLMUTTER. Thank you. My name is Diane Perlmutter. I have been a resident of Hudson for 16 years. I own my home, I vote here, I pay taxes and serve jury duty here. Personally I am very active in the community. I sit on the boards of directors of three major local institutions. Professionally I am the CEO of the leading worldwide cancer support organization. We know that environmental factors impact cancer rates. According to the state Department of Health Greene County, the site of the current St. Lawrence plant, has the third highest lung cancer rate in New York state.
The proposed St. Lawrence plant proposes to put pollution-spewing, 40-story smokestack within a few miles of two elementary schools, a middle school, a high school and a community college. This would virtually ensure that we are condemning the next generation of Hudsonians to a future with a cancer diagnosis. My concerns are compounded because St. Lawrence, a company with a deplorable track record for pollution, is considering using untested manufacturing processes and technology. Since they have no basis in fact for any of their pollution projections, I believe St. Lawrence's claims are unfounded and unlikely to be realized.
Finally, if this plant is approved, I believe future generations will look back and be unable to understand why, in 2001, we welcome a company who believes if you pay a fine after the fact it is okay to break laws and break promises. Untested technology, broken promises and increased cancer rates, this is a lose-lose-lose proposition for Columbia County. Thank you.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: And after Ms. Danz, Andrea Tranchita.
CASANDRA DANZ: Good evening, Judge Goldberger. I am Casandra Danz, also known as Mrs. Greenthumbs. I am a garden writer and sometimes a lecturer. I was led to believe that we could come here tonight and talk about how this plant would impact our lives. Well, it's impacted my life tremendously. I have always had a dream about Hudson because when I came here all the stores were closed and everything was shut up, but now it's all coming back to life. And my dream for Hudson was to start a school of horticulture here in town in my retirement. And I always thought that was possible because we had a clean environment but now it seems that that dream may come to an end.
So what I'd like to do is also I want to tell you also that my garden gets a clear view of that 40 story smokestack giving me the finger out my kitchen window every morning. And I'm exactly downwind of that smokestack, so that on a still day -- I'm less than a mile away -- on a still day that is going to come down right on my head and on my garden. And in fact my garden was so effected by the previous cement plant many years ago that I cannot grow plants that like acid soil like pine trees and plants like that because my soil is so basic from having lime rained on it always those years. So and that is from a small cement plant.
Now look, it seems to me that Hudson can go two ways: Either we will go the way of international corporation coming in and treating us, I mean what are we Bulgaria back, you know, in 1934 that people come in and burn coal? That to me is absolutely outrageous. So what I'm saying is either we can go that way or we can go the way we have been going, which is to grow as naturally and grow into a beautiful, healthy community that we have begun to do. Thank you very much.
ANDREA TRANCHITA: Hello, Your Honor. My name is Andrea Tranchita. And my family has lived in the county for generations. Both my grandfathers owned small businesses in Hudson for many years and managed to raise their families quite nicely.
My husband and I chose Columbia County to raise our children in and we did so without the support of St. Lawrence Cement or other huge dirty industries. We own our own home, we've sent our children to college and we now operate a small organic farm. Our livelihood we feel would be effected if St. Lawrence Cement were allowed to spew tons of poison across our property.
Contrary to their claims St. Lawrence Cement does not make my air clean. God makes my air clean. St. Lawrence Cement pollutes by pumping arsenic, dioxins, mercury and other poisonous dust into our environment. Please let's get real here. Pollution makes people sick. The kind of pollution St. Lawrence creates causes asthma, emphysema, cancer and other health problems. I'm not willing to trade my health and the quality of life I've worked so hard to achieve for a foreign industrial monster. Money doesn't justify everything. Thank you.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: We're going to take a ten minute break.
(Whereupon, the hearing was.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Could everybody please sit down and be quiet. Linda McNutt. Peter Hoffman. He was just here a second ago.
PETER HOFFMAN: Hello. My name is Peter Hoffman. I'm the father of a two year old daughter and reside in the township of Claverack. If this plant were to be built we will be living under the claim of this coal-operated monstrosity. The fallout from the smoke plume contains lead, arsenic, mercury, PM 2.5 and a ten-fold increase in carbon monoxide, just to name a small fraction of the emissions that will become the very air we breathe. When the medical staff of Columbia Memorial Hospital by vote of 35 to 1 say the plant poses a serious risk to the health of our community I listen. The health risks of asthma, heart disease and carcinogenic complications would be greatest for small children and our elderly population. When I think of how close and visible the pretty balloons St. Lawrence Cement sent up to indicate the 400 foot tall smokestack height from the playground at my daughter's day care center it is truly frightening.
I am here to express my strong opposition to St. Lawrence's plan to construct a cement plant virtually in the heart of Hudson, New York, in the heart of Columbia County. The massiveness of this proposed plant simply boggle the mind with the inappropriateness of this proposal to this community. It is sadly ironic to hear many political leaders complain of the very real problem of acid rain generated greatly by similar coal-burning plants in the Midwest that are killing forests and lakes in the Catskills and Adirondack Mountains, and then somehow advocate the construction of a gigantic coal-burning plant in the middle of the Hudson Valley. St. Lawrence's presentation of a coal-burning power plant being cutting edge, high tech and environmentally preferable is simply skewed logic. And no matter how many scrubbers and how many filter bags they propose to use, the fact remains that tons of toxic pollutants will billow into the air and blanket the environment on a constant 24 hour basis for decades to come.
St. Lawrence talks about cleaner air as if it was the plant's sole function. This plant will not clean our air, it will pollute it on a large and unprecedented scale.
In addition, this facility will have the capability of incinerating trash and tires. Of this practice which St. Lawrence has utilized in other existing plants their spokespeople exclaimed that they are proud of this innovative approach because it's helps "reduce fuel cost, preserve natural resources and rid the environment of unsightly and dangerous piles." I hardly view adding dioxins and PCBs into our atmosphere by such burning as a public service. How can our state even consider allowing this possibility, because at this point in time there is no legally binding agreement to never follow through with this practice. The company's record for being a responsible neighbor within the areas where they currently operate around the country are bleak. Environmental violations are numerous, highlighting to me a tendency to produce maximum profits at all costs. The multiple of jobs that we've heard of future jobs which would never be established because of the presence of this kind of cement plant would amount to a far greater loss of future growth than the limited number of jobs it would provide. Given a choice, it's hard to believe that people in the future would ever choose to want to live in an area that is home to such a looming, evasive and polluting industry.
Undoubtedly, the creation of jobs within Columbia County is very important. And in the 14 years I have lived here I have seen so much positive growth which truly supports and enhances the quality of life of this community. My opposition to St. Lawrence Cement stems from a firm belief that its location within the heart of our most densely populated area of Columbia County would stifle further beneficial growth in this area, as it has in the many areas where they have moved in. There is no way around the fact that this would be an extremely high impact industry on this area, both visually and from a noise standpoint and from a health standpoint. I urge you. Judge Goldberger, to do everything in your power to stop this plant from being built. Those of us who are opposing the cement plant are not against jobs but feel that the proposed plant is seriously flawed, which in the end would be truly disastrous for Hudson, Greenport and Claverack, disastrous for New York state and disastrous for the future of our planet's environment. Thank you.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Amanda Henry. And then Herbert Runyon, Jr.
AMANDA HENRY: Your Honor, good evening. Ladies and gentlemen, good evening. I'm a resident of Hudson and a citizen and I have very deep concerns in total opposition to the building of the largest cement plant in the world, which will entirely dwarf the city of Hudson. That wholly St. Lawrence can even build a coal-burning plant of this magnitude is truly an outrage. The fact that they wouldn't be allowed to do it in Switzerland because of the known deadly effects of such an operation makes this proposal all the more sinister. If the cement plant is built, in direct opposition to the advice of our doctors, the results will be utterly devastating to the health of our community at every age group. We will be forced to bear not only emotional but the ruinous financial cost of such greed. The city of Hudson has been restored to much of its former historic glory and enjoys an artistic and economic revival, continued even now by a group of dedicated citizens who have been willing to put their education, money, expertise and passion into making it so. We are surrounded by a growing group of farmers, many of who put aside traditional farming and adopted organic methods to supply an ever increasing demand from a society that values such product highly. Last year Amtrak sold over 500,000 day tickets to Hudson from Penn Station. Visitors chose to spend the day enjoying all that Hudson now offers and the revival our citizens have worked so hard to achieve.
One job, one job in no way compensates for all that would be lost by the building of this plant. The day that the test balloons flew at the height of the proposed tower we all saw them from the city. It was a bleak day indeed. We realized once again how overwhelming 400 feet truly is and that the plume which will top it by as much as another 50 percent will spew the detritus of its production over us all. There is no escaping that. To add insult to injury, this decision, which with affects our health, our property values and our very livelihoods is being taken by those who don't even live in Hudson. Your Honor, the building of the St. Lawrence plant will devastate this extraordinary little city, and I earnestly entreat you to prevent it from happening.
Herb Runyon, Jr. is not here this evening but he did ask me to say on his behalf -.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: You have to slow down. Can't hear you.
AMANDA HENRY: Okay. Herb Runyon, Jr. is not here this evening he asked me to say on his behalf as a, well, as a native of Claverack whose family still farm the area that he also is violently opposed to the cement plant. Thank you.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Thank you. Dr. Roseanne Wasserman. Sabrina Tranchita. Albert Gallardo. Alexandra Anderson. Are you Ms. Anderson.
ALEXANDRA ANDERSON: I am. Thank you. Can you hear me.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Yes.
ALEXANDRA ANDERSON: Great.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Next speaker will be Mark Teague.
ALEXANDRA ANDERSON: Thank you very much, Your Honor. Thank you for allowing me to speak this evening to you, to the citizens and friends of Columbia County.
My name is Alexandra Anderson. I have lived in the village of Kinderhook for 18 years, where I am a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals and a former trustee of the Historical Society, Columbia County Historical Society.
I don't work for St. Lawrence Cement. I didn't get paid to come here and nobody brought me by bus. I came in my car. However, I have great sympathy with the workers who did come in this way. They are being put between two very difficult forces. They're basically being blackmailed and it's very, very sad.
I am here actually tonight as both a citizen and a professional art historian and writer. Today I represent the United States Chapter of the International Association of Art Critics, which is a branch of a Maneso-related non-governmentmental organization representing 4,000 art critics in 42 countries across the world. Everyone who is involved in the arts understands the unique value of the Hudson River, of the Hudson River Valley and the particular area where we stand tonight. This is the birthplace of American art. And I am here today to remind you of the devastation St. Lawrence will bring to that landscape, to the views from both Athens and from this side of the river, and to the architecturally significant structures of this national and culture and artistic treasure.
No one in Europe would do this to any of their great sites. This plant will forever destroy the landscape that inspired Cole, Church, Sanford Gifford, John Kinset and the other great artists of the Hudson River School. That destruction will be on our heads for future generations. They'll know who did this. Our health, our children's health, our family's health physically is incredibly important. Our cultural health and our cultural survival is also incredibly important. We have a legacy to guard. This is our cultural legacy and we must not destroy it. And my colleagues and I officially object to this entire idea. It's insane. I also am very saddened and very angry about the behavior of the Swiss company, Holderbank, what it is about to do to our region and what it has already done to our people. Holderbank, now called Holcim -- it seems to change its name a lot -- is a very powerful concern and it is using all of the oldest tricks in the book to purposely and cynically set resident against resident, neighbor against neighbor. Dividing the community is an old trick. And class war, furious class war is another old trick. The real enemy is not either side who is speaking tonight, it is the foreign corporation that is trying to manipulate us and divide us so they can get what they want. And we should wake up and figure it out.
Propaganda is propaganda and everybody is smart enough to recognize it. Believe me, I know Mr. Schmidheiny's reputation in the world. He is CEO and the major shareholder of Holderbank. The Swiss, by the way, do not care about any of us. Greed is driving them. What is really driving this procedure is the greed of a global billionaire who also owns several vineyards in California, he is a famous art collector and he is known for his arrogance. I just want you to realize that. Believe me, he would not have built this plant next to the Matterhorn. That's all I have to say. MARK TEAGUE: My name is Mark Teague. I live in Coxsackie in Greene County and I'm a member of the executive committee of STOP. While the St. Lawrence debacle has been developing here in Greenport, across the river we've been fighting another outrageous proposal, the Athens generating project. Excuse me if the two issues begin to blur together in my mind. In many ways they are the same.
Both plants will be absolutely enormous, completely out of scale with development in this area. Both claim economic benefits that disappear with even casual scrutiny. Both are being sited despite fairly elaborate protections which supposedly covers this landscape from the Hudson's American Heritage River designation to Olana's status as a national historic landmark with the federally protected viewshed. Both clearly violate both the language and the spirit of New York State's Conservation Law, particularly Policy 24, which designate scenic areas of statewide significance. Both companies have horrific environmental records. And despite the fact that both plants will require pollution credits just to operate, both companies persist in making odd or outlandish environmental claims. In fact, both insist on portraying their projects as state of the art. It's worth taking a minute to wonder exactly what they mean by this claim. For Athens Generating state of the art means overwhelming local zoning restrictions to build on federally protected wetlands in an archeologically sensitive greenfield area. For St. Lawrence it apparently means a massive coal-burning plant with the capacity to burn even dirtier fuels in the future. It means 20 million pounds of air pollution per year. It means a nearly 25 percent increase in pollution over their existing Catskill plant. State of the art also means in both cases plants so highly computerized and automated that despite their incredible size they will contribute virtually no new jobs to the region's economy.
If that doesn't sound too impressive, maybe it's time to consider that what's truly state of the art here is the way these companies use money to manipulate the process. In both cases, multibillion dollars corporations headquartered thousands of miles away have claimed to represent the little guy in these disputes. With no apparent sense of irony these out-of-state plutocrats and their lackeys have denounced local opponents as elitist and outsiders. That's state of the art. Meanwhile, St. Lawrence floods the airwaves with absurd rhetoric about clean air technology and distributes signs reading, Support the Planet. Support the Planet. The claim is so odd you have to wonder about what planet they're talking about. Propaganda like this isn't about making sense, it's about using language as a bludgeon, about repeating the same crass falsehoods over and over until weariness replaces the belief in the public mind. George Orwell understood the technique. He wrote about it in his nightmare novel 1984. Unfortunately, this technique is still state of the art.
With both of these projects arriving at virtually the same time, it's been almost impossible for people in this valley to escape the high tide of propaganda. The diversion, deceptions and out and out lies make it increasingly difficult to stand back and take stock of the situation. Often those of us in the opposition find ourselves in the position of disputing small points. Nevertheless, this is an excellent moment for us to stop and consider what is really at stake here. Each of these projects is a regional disaster. Put together they are something much worse -- a massive assault on our environment, on public health and safety, on our economy, on our communities, on the quality of our lives. Beyond that, they represent a huge step toward the final destruction of a landscape which has for hundreds of years stood in the national consciousness as the very emblem of American beauty, of what this nation could be at its best. Somehow, that's the issue that's always obscured both in the weird public drama and perhaps more importantly in the conference room where lawyers and bureaucrats gathered to break down the numbers.
Albert Einstein said, "Did not everything that counts can be counted." Before the DEC graduates from this public hearing to the firmer ground of the issues conference, before you disappear into what may be a thicket of small facts and details, I implore you to step back and take a look at what is really being done to this valley, so long celebrated and cherished by the American people. Think about the legacy you will be creating. Think about what you will be leaving for our children. Today's state of the art will quickly fade, but your decision here will endure either as a testimony to your wisdom or as a monument to our collective disgrace. Thank you.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Sheldon Evans. Is there a Sheldon Evans here? The next name I don't know if I can read. Somebody with the last name of Arvare.
UNIDENTIFIED: Is it possible for me to speak since someone else left and since I'm from Massachusetts.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: I'm sorry, but I -- If you filled out a registration card.
UNIDENTIFIED: I did.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: I'm sorry, I can't. It's not really fair to people here to have you jump ahead.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Thank you. Somebody named Arvare. Joan Zacharias. Andi Bartczak. Irwin Sperber. John Keeler. Remi Saunder.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Sorry. You're Mr. Keeler.
JOHN KEELER: Yes. Good evening, Judge. I thank you for extending the period for the people to have input into this project. I must say having been here since the opening this morning that I'm quite proud of the statements of so many people who have opposed this plant. We have had a roomful of local heroes in my estimation.
It seems this late in the evening that one would not have to say too much to you, but I would like to say that the cement plant has certainly researched the character of the local people of Columbia County in a way that's most unfortunate. The people here are by and large very naive and trusting. The false advertising that has gone on has really affected the people who are for the plant. And I think it's really sad that the old truth in advertising suggestion that we have in this country has been really abandoned by the SLC company in their disgraceful misrepresentations to the public with all their misinformation.
I would like to say that another problem here is locally you have to understand the character of the people. They're a wonderful, loving, good people in Columbia County, but like all regional people they have certain wonderful hang-ups. They have a really hard time with outsiders. I've lived here for almost 50 years, and the other day when I was in Hudson I ran across a man with a great blue shirt on and who worked for the plant and he said to me, Hi, Mr. Keeler. Hey, aren't you from down below? You must be against the plant? I said, No, I'm not from down below. When I first came to Hudson 50 years ago down below was Poughkeepsie and up above was Albany. I said, I'm from Brooklyn. And I'm very happy to have been from Brooklyn. But my great-grandfather came here during the Famine in Ireland and my grandfather came from Flyville and my family has farmed here for generations, so I don't consider myself an outsider, but in the local mentality almost everybody who has not been born here is quite suspect, unfortunately.
Another thing that I would like to say is that I was at a celebration recently and there was a gentleman there who was an engineer and who built cements plants and we got into conversation and he said, You know, I've looked at the DEIS and, you know, SLC says that what they are doing is the state of art. He said, Contrary to that there's no state of the art here. We're building plants in third world countries that are much more environmentally correct than what they propose here. And one example he gave me, I don't know, I'm not a technician or a scientist, was that in order not to have Claverack, Hudson and Greenport at ground zero for the pollutants, the stack would have to be 300 feet higher.
Now that's really a very hard thing to think on, but that could well be one of the problems that we have here with this plant. The impact on Claverack has been neglected or just not even addressed. Our town board has been most negligent. They have refused to do anything about it, and our heroic Women of Claverack have come out in their stead. And I hope that you will pay attention to all the positive information that you have received, Judge, and I thank you. Good night.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Thank you. Remi Saunder. Is there a Remi Saunder. Sara Lipsky. Tom, I'm sorry, Swope. Okay. Are you here? Eileen Keeler, Richard Courage. Mary Davidson. And after Mary Davidson, Kevin Kinney.
MARY DAVIDSON: Okay. I'll be brief because much of what I was going to say has already been said by other people. I expected to talk about three this afternoon. I am a taxpayer in the town of Claverack. I've lived here since 1977, and I'm on the faculty of this beloved institution for 24 years. But let me make my point clear. I do not speak for this institution, but I do speak as an educator on the faculty. I teach social sciences, classes -- psychology, sociology and social work. I'm currently teaching a social problems class focusing on the environment, which I've designed specifically around the areas of St. Lawrence Cement, Athens Generator and the dredging of the Hudson River.
As a concerned social scientist, I recognize the need that people have for well paying, quality jobs. Indeed, it pains me to look out amongst the audience today and see many friends and workers that I know in this community who are so desperate for decent employment that they are supporting this cement plant. This company is not going to provide in the long run well paying jobs for a number of people, not even in the short run. But even if they were, why must it pay at the expense of our health in order for that to take place? If the local elected officials in this community were doing their job, we should be able to have decent employment without work ruining our health. I'm a mother and also a grandmother and I would like my grandchildren to grow up to be healthy. What a choice we have, to be able to have well paying jobs at the expense of our health or be able to have good health at the expense of not having any jobs? It's time for this community to wake up. Are we not able to trust the testimony of our very own local hospital officials who have adamantly stated over and over and over that this plant is going to ruin the lives and health of all of us.
I'm going to cut it here, I think. I just wanted to go on record as saying I'm a opposed to this plant for the sake of the health and well being of all of us and future generations to come. Thank you very much.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Thank you. Kevin Kinney. Michael Halloran. Robert Soto. Walter Carbone. You are.
ROBERT SOTO: Robert Soto.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Okay.
ROBERT SOTO: Good evening, Your Honor. Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. I just want to share something with you.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: You have to speak into the microphone.
ROBERT SOTO: Okay. I want to share something with all of you, no matter what shirt you have or what color, I grew up asthmatic and I felt I was a child all my life as a child sick. I don't want any sympathy, I just want to explain to you that I got better, and I did everything in my life to better myself. I bought a home here, opened up a business and what I did for entertaining was wheezing to the music on the radio. I don't want that to happen again. Thank you.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Walter Carbone. Aji Clark. Nancy Wiley. Constance Mondel. Howard Reznikoff. Jim Filkins. Nona Lewis. And after Ms. Lewis, Barbara Docktor.
NONA LEWIS: Good evening. Can you hear me. Sort of.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Yes. Go ahead.
NONA LANGE: I'm speaking to you tonight as an individual who lives, raises a family and works in Columbia County as a clinical psychologist. I wasn't raised in Columbia County but I was raised in a rural area, a poor one. And I know from personal experience what it's like to have your dad lose his job and have to move out of that area where you grew up. So my heart goes out to those people who work at the Catskill St. Lawrence Cement Company and their families and their jobs, our friends.
Nevertheless, I must stand here opposed to this proposed plant. The Catskill St. Lawrence Cement Plant is an antiquated, polluting facility that needs to be upgraded or shut down. The solution is not to build a new monstrous plant here.
I'm proud to that say I was a weekender for a long time in Columbia County and I fell in love this with this place and 12 years ago my husband, my three children and I moved up here and I've never looked back. I want to live here for the rest of my life. I can't think of a more beautiful place to live and I hope it stays that way.
I'd like at this point to read to you a letter that my son wrote and couldn't stay to read to you himself because he had to go home and study for a Chemistry Regents. He says, "Your Honor, I am a junior at Taconic Hills High School. I have been living here in Columbia County for 12 years. I deeply care about our rural environment and especially that of Columbia County. Just a week ago I participated in an effort with the student council to clean up a section of Route 23 as part of the Adopt A Highway Program. I represent many of my peers when I say that I don't feel a cement plant as large as St. Lawrence proposes to be built in Columbia County would be beneficial. Cement plants don't clean the air, they pollute it. A speaker in favor of St. Lawrence brought up a good point earlier. Cement is a necessary product, but the plant proposed by St. Lawrence Cement isn't on a scale that's appropriate for Columbia County. It's just the wrong kind of plant for our community. A large corporation should have a mutually beneficial relationship with its community. Economically and environmentally St. Lawrence Cement isn't a good match up with Columbia County. There's no such thing as adopt a cement plant program. One can't really expect the student council to clean up nitrous oxide, lead, mercury, arsenic and cement dust as an after-school activity. Please, Your Honor, many of my peers and I want to keep Columbia County clean." That's my kid and I'm real proud of him. I want to say a few other words. I've got to contract them. The issue that I wanted to address is an issue related to the fact that this cement, proposed cement plant is going to be built so close to the urban center of Columbia County that means some very specific things. And it means that any comparison with the Catskill facility and how much it pollutes, is quite irrelevant. In a two mile radius of that plant there are about 545 people. In a two mile radius of the proposed plant there are almost 15,000 people. That's 27 times as many. So the amount of pollution is ever so much more devastating.
In addition, to those residents in this county that would be exposed, and I'm not going to go into the kinds of pollution and affects because I think our doctors have done an admirable job of presenting that to you, I just want to say that I've read some of those papers myself and the facts speak for themselves about the dangers of the health risks. But I do want to say that in addition to the residents, because we are an urban center here in Hudson, we pull all kinds of people into this area who will also be affected. People come here to conduct their businesses. They come here to shop. They come here to work and in doing so they frequently drop their small children at day care facilities and leave them there in what would become a polluted area. In addition, I have to say that we have a big heart in Columbia County. We have a lot of special services for our most vulnerable population that of course includes the young children that I'm referring to, but it also includes the sick and the elderly, the physically handicapped, the mentally handicapped and the emotionally handicapped. And I don't think those folks have been mentioned here and I'm here to advocate for them because it has been said that the quality of the society can be judged partly by how well it takes care of its most vulnerable people, the people who can't afford another -- those are the people who can't afford one more stress in their life. And those are the people that often are not in a position to advocate for themselves. So I would just like to alert you, Your Honor, who some of those people are. Within one mile of the proposed site we have of course a hospital has been mentioned many times that's a 192 bed facility. We have the Cavelle Cancer Treatment Center there that brings many, many people to it on a daily basis. We have on the hospital grounds an early intervention program that serves 90 children that are again bused in from all over the county. These are not just residents we're talking about here.
We have three residences, I'm not sure of the total, I know it's over 150 residences that serve senior citizens and the disabled. We have two skilled nursing facilities. At the Firemen's Home there are 140 beds and I think those men have had enough soot in their lungs and they deserve to spend the last days breathing clean air. We also have the Eden Park facility with 78 beds. Serving the mentally ill we have the Rip Van Winkle Day Treatment Center, serves at least 47 people, and the intensive psychiatric rehabilitation program serving 19. We also have for the mentally ill residences and supported living situations serving over 100 in Hudson, Greenport and Catskill.
Serving the mentally handicapped Cohart Promenade Hill Top program, the program serves 100 people approximately per day. There's also two co-op residences in Columbia-Greene. I want to say clearly that I'm speaking not on behalf of any of one of these agencies, I'm speaking, I'm just taking upon myself to advocate these people. We have a public school system serving approximately 2,345 children in high school and middle school and two elementary schools. This is all within a two mile radius of this site. We also have a Questar Program that serves 460 children, bringing children in from all over this county. Again, maybe that's closer to two and a half miles but very close to this site. We have, of course, this wonderful facility that serves approximately 1800 people here at Columbia-Greene Community College.
In addition to the early intervention program on the hospital grounds -.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Dr. Lange, I'm going to ask you to wrap up your comments. I have so many more people who want to speak tonight.
NONA LANGE: I'm through then. I just want to say that there are many, many other day care facilities I have not mentioned that pull in young children. And we all know that the asthma rate in young children is going up -- nobody knows why, but this extra pollution is not needed. Thank yo.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Are you Barbara Docktor?
BARBARA DOCKTOR: Ye.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: After Ms. Docktor, Dini Lamot. BARBARA DOCKTOR: Thank you, Judge Goldberger. I've been in Columbia County since 1988. I grew up in Fort Lee, New Jersey during the '60s and experienced first-hand the negative effects of unplanned development. Fort Lee, which is the New Jersey side of the Washington Bridge sits on top of the Palisade Cliffs, which were all woods back then. With no vision for conservation one, huge, out-of-scale highrise building led to another until there were no woods left and the beauty and character of the cliffs and town were decimated.
I bring this up because we are at a similar junction here. We have a choice to make and that decision will effect the state of the Hudson Valley. Now that Athens Gen has been permitted and if SLC is allowed to build we'll go through the same kind of domino effect here with massive industry scarring our precious national heritage area. It will be the beginning of the New Jerseyfication of the Hudson Valley. If the DEC will allow these two colossal, polluting facilities here within five miles of each other on each side of the river, how will it say no to all the other industries that will be on the runway waiting for permits? And how does the DEC resolve the fact that it is considering allowing this gigantic coal-burning facility right after New York state has sued and won a lawsuit against coal-fired plants in the Midwest?.
I submit to you today a group of aerial photographs that I've made. What these photos show is how horribly close the proposed facility would be to Hudson's reservoir, hospital and schools. They show that while St. Lawrence's existing plant in Catskill is a scar on the landscape, at least is it is not right next to a town. Another shows how close Athens Gen and SLC would be to each other. I ask you to consider not just the visual blight that these industrial facilities will bring, but the unquestionable negative impact on our air quality, the health of living begins and the environment. I'd also like to point out that when you look down on the valley from a plane or even from hiking to the site of the Catskill Mountain House, you see a definite haze that's trapped in the valley. Even on days it seems crystal clear while you're on the ground, when you get up high that haze is heartbreakingly visible. I am very concerned about how the roughly 20 million pounds per year of St. Lawrence's emissions are going to sit in the valley.
The St. Lawrence application is using air quality data from the Albany Airport. This dodges the air inversion problem we have here in the valley, where those emissions will get trapped. Why isn't air quality data from Greenport being used.
I understand that you will be touring the proposed site and I ask that you also visit the village of Claverack, and see how close Hudson's reservoir and hospital would be to St. Lawrence's blasting and hazardous emissions. I hope you'll see the amazing revitalization of Warren Street, and the absurdity of having SLC's dock sit right next to Hudson's new waterfront park.
Then, I hope that you will see Catskill's Main Street, and Cementon, because it doesn't take too hard a look to see that having a St. Lawrence Cement plant in town does not bring economic vitality. The health risks alone are more than enough reason to deny this permit. But I hope you will also strongly consider how siting this plant here will irrevocably alter the landscape for which this area is so renowned. I ask you to save it for us and for future generations. Thank you. 10.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Dini Lamot. Either Norm or Norma Rudback. Barbara Lehman. Caire Behr. Claudia Bruce. Okay. You are.
CLAUDIA BRUCE: Claudia Bruce. I thought you lost my card there, but I guess we're really late.
Everything that is in my written statement has been said before. I'm Claudia Bruce. I live in Hudson. I run a business in Hudson and as of July first it will be the tenth year of that business. Thank you. I run it with my co-director Linda Mussmann. It is an arts organization, which reaches out to the community in many ways. We show all kinds of dance, music, theater, films, and another one of our major outreaches is to the children and young people of Hudson. It is with them in mind that I am speaking tonight because as has been said many times over, many of the children in Hudson suffer from asthma. I'm not going to go into the specifics of these questions because they are in the DEIS and need to be addressed and have been spoken to from by many other people here tonight. However, I want to add my voice to that group of people and to please ask you to go into these questions of the safeguards that are built into this permit that will prevent this plant from burning dirtier coal, analyzation of the potential fallout of heavy metals. This pollution caused by additional truck traffic.
It is evident from the air impact statements in the DEIS that the city and the surrounding areas of Greenport and Claverack will not be a safe and healthy place to live, work and raise children, and that SLC's presence will stifle the plans of new investors with interests in sustainable and green business.
There are many, many businesses in Hudson that have grown the way Time and Space Limited has grown, which is the arts organization, and that is by hard work and our own money, not any multinational company's money and grit and sweat, hard work and perseverance against many difficult obstacles in the city. This 47 pound DEIS report indicates that the air quality will not improve for those of us who live here. The children and the elderly will not have the ability to move away. They will be forced to live in the shadow of this out-of-scale plant that has offered our community very few jobs but instead long term dismantling of the quality of our lives.
Please deny SLC's application. It is too close, as has been said a million times, to our schools, our hospitals, our water supply, our small city. Please think of protecting our children's lungs and the air that they will be forced to breathe.
There are far too many questions that SLC has not answered in this application. There has not been enough care taken to protect the health of this, my community. Thank you.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: You are.
CLAIRE BEHR: Claire Behr. I've been sitting here for about eight hours as have many, many people, so I'll make my statements brief tonight and I don't want to repeat many of the things that have already been said. My husband and I moved here about 31 years ago. We moved into this area with the hope of raising our sons in a place where they could actually find out and see firsthand where their food came from. As the years have gone by, I've seen things change for the better, and I would hope that will all due respect to those who are looking for a good job that we will deny this plant from coming here and that multinational businesses like SLC would help us, all of us to preserve this fragile and interconnected system which we all depend upon. Thank you.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Another hard name to read John Macker or John Machew. Francesca Joyce. Ken Dewitt. Patrick Doyle. You are.
PATRICK DOYLE: Patrick Doyle. Thank you, Your Honor. I have a family, my wife and child. We live in Greenport and we have bought a commercial building in downtown Hudson, which will be the nearest neighbor to the conveyor belt that SLC is planning on. I think the biggest problem for me is that I used to be an industrial worker. I was a chemical worker. I ran a sulfuric acid plant and I also ran a urea plant. And one of the things I noticed in my experience was that the companies that employed me the one that really was concerned about its outwards appearance, it was concerned about its employees and what it did in the community was the plant that really did not pollute. Another one that I worked in was kind of a message that housekeeping was not very good. And if you will look across the river at the Catskill plant and look at their record of what they pollute, I suggest that this is a plant and a company that cannot be responsible for what it does. The main thing for me is that it's so out of scale to put this plant, which is really five plants, in our neighborhood, that it's beyond my comprehension that it could even have gone to this state. So, please, Your Honor, look at this and realize that this is so out of scale, that it is beyond imagination that we would have to put up with this in this beautiful city and county. Thank you.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Linda Mussmann. And then Diane Reilly.
LINDA MUSSMANN: My name is Linda Mussmann. Judge Goldberger, I trust you will do the right thing. Technology is tricky business, as we have discovered today. I arrived here at 12:30 and the microphone system is yet to work very well. The technology issue and what St. Lawrence brings us has a lot of doubts. In this 47 pound document that was laying on your desk, I think, and there's a lot of issues in there that are not yet addressed. Before I go on, I won't go on too long, but at the break I did go to Xtra-Mart at Bell's Pond to get some food and I walked in there and there was a lot of shouting going on, people are very upset about what was happening here. They said, it's those damned New Yorkers that are causing all this trouble and they should be tarred and feathered. These darned New Yorkers are causing all this trouble and they should be tarred and feathered. And said they are against the cement plant. I said, wait a minute. I'm against the cement plant. And I was late getting back because we had a heated discussion at the Xtra-Mart about this very topic. And what I discovered there was that it's not really the New Yorkers or the people that are asking questions, it's really the problem that our community and the people that lead our community have not really done their best work to bring us better paying jobs. I blame the development corporations. I blame the political leaders who do not help us develop sustainable economic, the ability to bring sustainable economic things to Hudson and this county. St. Lawrence isn't really our problem, the problem is St. Lawrence has been the biggest thing to come along to offer us such a big deal in a long time. It's totally out of scale. It's totally out of keeping with the nature of our community.
I live and work in Hudson. I'm an associate director along with Claudia Bruce of Time and Space Limited. We put the project together all by ourselves with very little help from this community in terms of the tools that should be in place to help people like us.
I've written many pages about my concern about this project and I can't seem to come or settle on any one thing, so simply put this is what I want to tell you, Judge. Many of my neighbors have never read this document. Many of my neighbors have never been informed of the DEIS, this massive document that details the project. My neighbors have never ever been informed of any of the information in this document or the health risk that is facing them. Many do not read or speak English and many will never know the health risk that St. Lawrence is bringing to our community. Many of my neighbors will breathe the polluted air. Many of my neighbors have asthma. They are being targeted because St. Lawrence thinks our community is poor and ill informed. Many of the children need to be protected from St. Lawrence Cement and what will come out of the stack. The forums that St. Lawrence held were all paid for by St. Lawrence, they were all controlled by St. Lawrence and they were not a public event without the control of St. Lawrence or the paying of the people that participated. So therefore to me they were totally controlled by the people who want to be here. There was never a public meeting with St. Lawrence. They never would meet with any of us in public without the control of the format. We were never allowed a public information meeting. There was never and has never been a model of the cement plant placed in our community so we could really understand the impact. The photographs that have been provided by St. Lawrence Cement are not available to anybody in the community unless you go and seek out that document. And even then there's questions about the accuracy of those photographs. The balloons were put up for one brief day and they were taken down as soon as they could. And it was extremely unfair to our community to not have access to the visual impact that will change our life forever. There is a five mile plume involved with this project, over five mile plume that will change what we look at for the rest of our lives and the future generations to come. Judge, please, please understand the importance and the complexity of this issue in our neighborhood. I am an artist, I am an activist and candidate for the mayor of Hudson, New York. Thank you.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Diane Reilly. Tony Thompson.
TONY THOMPSON: My name is Tony Thompson and I've been a full time resident in Hudson for 11 years and I, too, am not a millionaire. Almost two years ago the city of Hudson engaged a planning organization to develop a comprehensive plan for Hudson's future. The process was begun under Mayor Richard Scolara's Democratic administration and has continued in Mayor Cranis Republican administration.
I'm a member of the Steering Committee of Diverse People that has assembled. Public information and question sessions have taken place, as have focused groups with people representing various constituencies. A questionnaire was circulated citywide, etc. Though the process is not yet completed, the hope that Hudson citizens have for its future and Hudson's assets and liabilities have been sifted through, and a number of different directions and combinations of directions have been investigated to arrive at the following proposal.
The plan is entitled Investing in Diversity. It consists of a strategy linked and enhanced attraction while fostering niche manufacturing and other sectors. It has an advantage. This plan includes more of the population than other plans such as tourism and seeks diversity in economic base. There's a difficulty with this plan. It requires a complex balancing process between manufacturing and tourism. And there's a risk. What if the balance doesn't hold? It's my belief that it will be impossible to maintain an attractive destination future for Hudson and impossible to attract new, clean businesses which will have quality of life expectations, if around-the-clock heavy industry locates on the end of our small city. If a large industrial conveyor belt cuts through the middle of the beautiful and historically significant south bay, and if our waterfront is co-opted by 24 hour coal slag and cement loading and off-loading. If an industrial plant of this magnitude is sited here so much for the comprehensive plan, so much for the balance, so much for economic diversity and so much for the hopes of the citizens of Hudson for her future. Thank you.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Jennifer Post. Olivia Post, Ernestine Coleman. Christopher Nedwick. And after Mr. Nedwick, Nathan Chess.
CHRISTOPHER NEDWICK: Hi. Thank you very much, Judge Goldberger. Good evening, Judge Goldberger. I have decided to focus on one very specific aspect of this proposal and it's an issue which already affects me directly. The issue is blasting.
My name is Christopher J. Nedwick. I reside at 15 Rossman Avenue, Hudson, New York. As you know, the Worth and Rossman Avenue corridor of Hudson represents absolute ground zero in terms of its location to the proposed Greenport Project and corresponding mining operation. As such, this area bears the brunt of any blasting activity that occurs at the Newman Road Quarry. Am I speaking too fast? Citing cases of property damage and a general impingement upon quality of life, many Worth and Rossman Avenue residents have gone on record to express their concern and opposition to current blasting activity at the quarry. In April of 2000, the Worth and Rossman Avenue Association, a citizens coalition comprised of Worth and Rossman Avenue residents, was formed around this concern for existing blasting activity at the Newman Road Quarry and its subsequent negative impact upon local residents, their property, their comfort and their happiness.
It is my intention to provide you, Judge Goldberger, with a petition and list of grievances relating to current blasting activity as expressed by those members of the Worth and Rossman Avenue Association. It is also my intention to demonstrate just how blasting at the quarry has become a thorn in the side of local residents and how any increase in blasting activity would be unacceptable. As you're aware, St. Lawrence Cement has proposed a dramatic increase in mining activity for the Newman Road quarry. As it is stated clearly in Section A.3.1 of the DEIS, the company plans to increase its annual metric tonnage yield to a 6.7 MYT or million metric tons per year level. Corresponding with this increase will be an alarming increase in blasting frequency. Although SLC claims they are currently permitted to blast up to three times per week, in reality blasting activity at the Newman Road Quarry occurs less than three times per month. According to table A.3 of Appendix A in the DEIS, if the proposed Greenport Project is built, blasting activity will increase from the current rate of approximately 26 blasts per year to an appalling 182 to 234 blasts per year. Roughly a ten-fold increase in blasting activity.
On May 3, 2001 at 1:00 p.m., St. Lawrence Cement, in conjunction with A. Colarusso Sand and Gravel conducted what they referred to as a "blasting test." The blast, which reportedly lasted between five and seven seconds was for local residents, a chilling indication of things to come should the proposed Greenport Project be constructed and SLC allowed to increase its blasting activities to requested levels. While describing that particular blast to a local newspaper, The Register Star, Worth Avenue resident Ned Depew called the blast "significant" and stated "it rattled the doors and windows in their frames." Of the same blasting test, Rossman Avenue resident Robert Keefer stated "It was really bad. The whole house shook." Mr. Keefer also claims to have incurred property damage as a result of that particular blast, stating that a cement beam support for a walkway was "knocked out almost six inches." Also on Rossman Avenue, Alexys Wigley said of the blasting test "I thought for a moment that we were experiencing a minor earthquake. I have lived in Central America and experienced many minor earthquakes and that blast felt identical for a moment. And when they blast up here, my entire house shakes. It's really quite disturbing." The blast was felt as far downtown as Fifth and State Streets. In an interview with the Register Star, Sabine Seiler stated that her sturdy house "felt like it was being picked up and plunked back down again. It was like a total shake-up of the house. I was concerned that if this happens all the time there would be damage to all the windows, walls and the entire foundation." As also reported in the Register Star, Mary Lou Grohl, a Hudson resident of some seven decades, compared the test blast to past explosions at the old Atlas and Lonestar Cement plants. Describing the test blast of May 23, Mrs. Grohl stated "It was a lot stronger than I remember it, and unacceptable. It rocked the house. My first thought was that maybe the furnace exploded. To me it was that bad. This is not going to be good for any of our foundations.
Clearly, Judge Goldberger, if such blasting activity were to occur 182 to 234 times annually as SLC proposes, the generally good quality of life that local residents currently enjoy, aside from the negative effects incurred by existing blasting activity, would be greatly diminished if not erased.
And both Appendix A and Section 8 of the EIS, SLC continues numerous times that all mining activities at the Newman Road Quarry is legally grandfathered, and as such not subject to the two million MTY limit that the Department of Environmental Conservation contends it is. The company goes on to claim that the level of mining activity at the quarry is subject only to market demand. Absurdly enough this in turn implies an unlimited mining level cap, hardly consistent with the two million MYT limit the DEC contends is legally binding. In light of this stark contrast in legal opinions, it is shocking to me, as one of thousands of residents who stand to be directly impacted by the mining levels and corresponding blasting activities of this proposed plant, that this EIS could have been deemed complete by the DEC. But I'm not here to criticize the DEC. I am here, however, to form a request and perhaps plead with the Department of Environmental Conservation that they scrutinize every single aspect of this weak and ambiguous portion of this application. That is all sections dealing with blasting and mining, including Appendix A and Section 8 of the EIS.
I ask quite simply, Judge Goldberger, that the sections of the EIS dealing with mining and blasting be adjudicated during trial. And Section 8 of the EIS, SLC states explicitly that they will refrain from blasting during Easter Week, Christmas and several other holidays. This statement is an inadvertent admission of this activity's negative and undesirable nature. To enhance your understanding of this activity, I recommend that you and other representatives of the Department of Environmental Conservation come to Rossman and Worth Avenues during a future test blast so that you may experience at least once what St. Lawrence Cement is proposing to subject residents of those areas to. At least 182 to 234 times each and every year. Thank you very much.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Let me have your statement.
NATHAN CHESS: I'm going to use this one because no one has all day. So I think the technology is good here. The techies have been doing a good job. First of all, I want to thank Judge Goldberg and her associates and would like to give them something to take away from this evening's experience, today the second longest day of the year, something that I think we can all agree on, Columbia County does very well with which is fresh strawberries. They're particularly good this year.
My name is Nathan Chess and I'm an outsider, okay, in reference to what's been going on here. I only purchased a home here in 1998. I've only been visiting the area since I was six. Born on Long Island, raised in New York, but in terms of where am I resident, well, I pay taxes to the township of Claverack, I pay taxes to the Taconic Hills School District, although I have no children going there and I love it; it's a beautiful school they built there and I don't begrudge it. I also pay taxes to the City of New York. I pay taxes to the state of New York. And I pay taxes to the United States government. So an outsider from where, is the question.
This underlying tone that I've heard from both sides today -- I've lived here for 22 years. I've lived here for 47 years. I've lived here for 92 years. I don't care. If I stayed in the St. Charles Hotel tonight and went home and never came back here I have just as much right to talk about what is going on in the process as anybody else in this room, okay, because this is not the property of St. Lewis, St. Lawrence Cement. It's not the property of Friends of the Hudson. It's not the property, okay. I haven't even seen any first Americans in this room. This area has been settled by the white interlopers for approximately 400 years. It's been settled by human beings for over 1500 years. So who are the outsiders? Okay. And in reference to the outsiders and the New Yorkers and what they do, okay, I spent a year and a half looking for my property up here. In that time I stayed up here in hotels, I bought gasoline. I spent money on food and lodging. Okay. I then, from the time I found my property what is the amount of money that I put into this economy? Starting with brokers and all the local people -- Valley Mortgage Company. Lou Conklin inspected my house. Billy Baldwin looked in my septic tank and explained the wonders of the spetic system. Okay. Francis Roach was my attorney. Caroline Daniels, the best real estate broker in Columbia County was my broker. Okay. This was all money. And then, of course, as we've all gone down and sat a closing, I wrote checks to people I didn't know. But all I know is that when the checks came back they were all cleared through Columbia Hudson banks. So that money stayed here, okay. So though, although, and this is not in any way a slight for the people who work for St. Lawrence Cement, this mentality and the acceptance of this mentality I think is harmful situation.
I would also like to point out the irony here of how this community is divided. I think, and I'm glad to see the presence of the Hudson Police here because it appears that we've got the Bloods and the Cribs hanging out here. We've got red and blue. And I hope the gang activity squad is looking into this. And, you know, it's ironic but it's sad. People talk about it in terms of what the role of the evil Swiss empire is being done on that. Okay. That level is xenophobia -- and my high school teacher, English high school teacher would be so happy. It's the first time in my life I ever used that.
Okay. For both sides I think it's unwarranted. When you look in the DIS, and I will refer to the DIS several times, you talk about the fact that imported concrete, and we have to fear imported concrete and we have to be dependent to supply our own concrete. Oh, yeah, that's great, but the profits from that concrete are flowing out of Catskill or will flow out of Greenport, will go through to Canada and it will end up in Switzerland. So, you know, this whole bubble bug that we have to be independent all that we're doing is feeding the money back to the people that we're "afraid" of that are going to come over and take over the concrete combine. So with that said, and just the whole other idea too everyone has made it clear, okay, St. Lawrence Cement is here and I would believe that the people, the few people that are left here in blue, would admit it -- they're here to make money, okay. They're not here to do anything else but that. Okay. They are not coming in here and proposing to spend $340 million for the residents of Hudson, Greenport, Claverack, and the rest of Columbia County and the rest of the northeast country. They're here to make money. Okay. And that's what it's about.
And the implied threats that I've heard here today from some of the people or the fear that if they don't get their way, we're out of here. You don't give us Greenport, we shut Catskill. Screw it. We're out of here. You know. And they can do it. As employees of SLC I would be afraid because unless you go over the 600 employee limit under federal regulations they have to give you no warning. So they could build Greenport, you could wait five years for Greenport, and if something came down and they got the opposition to burn the tires that they wanted, a day later they could close it and you'd be out of business. Okay. They have to give you no warning and they have to give you no separation. The only thing you would have, your recourse is coming back to draw back on the unemployment system. Now on to some particulars about the DIS. Just some real quick things. What is a SNCR? An SNCR. A selective non-catalytic converter. I know it's state of the art. State of the art's been repeated many times. It's state of the art. It hasn't been designed yet. They think maybe it will use ammonia. They think maybe they'll apply for permits but only after six months after it goes into operation will they commit to burning coal, but it is the state of the art and has a really important thing to do with cleaning up the discharge from this plant. But what is it? Non-catalytic. Okay. I don't know. Does it use epoxy and resin? I don't know. What is a non-catalytic? What is a SNCR? I mean, I think that's a pretty important thing.
Obviously they've made several points. In their major list with their scrubbers and their cool misting and they're hoochie, and hoochie and abuchie, you know all that stuff. They mention SNCR but they don't tell us what a SNCR is, and they don't even tell the DES. And they said they won't even be able to tell what the DES is until after they've built it. And then they'll ask for the permits for it. The other thing. The scrubber. Is this Star Trek? The scrubber. Okay, it takes the SO2 out of the stack. Does it then like, you know, does it go -- where does it go? Where does the sulphur dioxide go? It comes out of the stack, but where does it go? Where do we dispose of the sulphur dioxide? Are we going to blast it, like we talked about nukes. Are we going to put it in rockets and send it into outer space? Where does it go.
Okay. Which leads me to the next question. They're talking about using their existing permitted dump in Catskill. Okay. That is permitted currently now to take CKD. Now, I have spoken to many people about this. People who are in the knowledge, dump specialists. When was this was dump designed? How was it permitted? Is this a dump that was built under 40 year old technology? Is that a double-lined dump? Is this a dump with clay underlament? Is this is a dump that in their permit they have committed to the long term monitoring of dumps that are required because they're talking about that they will be using this dump for their 35 -- and one other thought. Let's, one thing they keep doing, 35 metric tons, okay. A metric ton -- which why all of a sudden we decided to go metric at this one point is interesting, but a metric ton is 2.1 -- 21,000 pounds, which when you talk about one ton an extra hundred pounds ain't a big deal. When you're talking about 2 million metric tons it starts to add up. When you talk about shipping 35,000 metric tons of CKD over the road to the Catskill dump it's a significant figure, and which they admit in their own document at that rate will be filled in 11 years.
And then they go on to say, well, fine, we will then transport it to other people and we will give you an updated list. Well, as we all know, I, as an outsider, who lives in New York sometimes, we're running out of dump space. Okay. You've got barges floating off the coast of the United States for three years that haven't been able to dump stuff.
And the other point is just because we get rid of it that means we dump it into some other community and SLC's response is we will be using permitted dumpers. Okay. Well, listen, Waste Management was just socked by the federal EPA, the largest dumper in the country. Just by saying that they're licensed does not mean they're not driving around the corner and dumping it in a sewer. The point being is that their plans when they talk about their waste stream, never mind everybody's covered what goes up the stack, I'm talking about the stuff that they admit is not going to go out the stack. So SO2, sulphur, where does it go? Does it go to the CKD? It goes to some other dump. Where does that traffic go? How does that traffic come in and out of this area.
The traffic is another issue. Okay. By their own admission, okay, they will have on their own trucks 160 trucks a day, 7/24/365. Now except for the hours of 7:30 to 8:30 where it translates where you get 30 trucks in which translates to one truck in every, in or out every two minutes, it translates to a truck every ten minutes on the highways of Columbia County and into the Berkshires and into New Hampshire and into Vermont and, yes, people have mentioned where the sulphur output of these vehicles, which is not mentioned in the DIS, which I think is a very important point. But all this extra tax money, man, we're going to chew up these highways. You know and as they all report I can tell you those six guys that they report that currently work at Greenport Highway Department are going to be some very busy dudes for the next 30 years. They're going to be racking up some serious OT keeping our highways in condition for these 160 trucks, which is only the trucks they admit, never mind the waste trucks, the oil trucks, the car trucks, the everything else that comes in.
So when you start to talk about tax revenues, a lot of the stuff, never mind the school thing and never mind the debate as to how they assess it at 25 million it's made 330 million and somehow they end up with a plant that's worth only 25 million. Okay. That's what accountants do, all right, but I feel a lot of that "extra tax" money being gobbled up awfully quick in nothing but road maintenance. That's a lot of asphalt to fill potholes. On top of which you're running 160 trucks over the days here. We've got our firemen. Let's talk about the HasMat activity here. One of these trucks of fly ash, one of these trucks of sulphur, one of these trucks of CKD, flip it over these trucks are going 7/24/365, rain, snow, night, hail -- it's like the Post Office. You gotta get it in, you gotta get it out. You know, and how we are already strained. Even though I'm an outsider I still read the papers, especially in the EMT area. Our budgets are being strained to pay professional EMTs because of their level of training. And they're the first responders. Then you gotta with HazMat and HazMat training. Never mind the risk to the pedestrians. Okay. And the school buses, and dogs and cows and deers. This is all once again stuff that's in their thing. I'm not going to quote chapter and verse because my eyes are blind from reading the CD Rom for the last three days.
Other quick points. Talk about fugitive dust control. One thing they don't mention, crushing 3.1 million metric tons of limestone. Now from what I can get from their Exhibit H, I believe, of what their description of fugitive dust control, it basically comes down to a broom and a hose. That's the level of their sophistication right now. You know, so, and yet they don't talk about it in the north, maybe they did. I didn't get to that chapter, I'll be honest. But it seems to me, I don't know, are they going to have guys like with plastic bags crushing up little pieces of limestone and then dumping it so the dust doesn't get around? That's a lot of limestone to sweep up. I know the kiln houses, I know the bags, but the limestone coming out of the mill, out of the pit is going to get crushed and it's not crushed in a contained environment. Once again, they talk about the list of their solid waste sites. Okay. One important thing and then this goes to their corporate response, the concept of them being a corporate citizen. Okay. You got a plant, they're talking temperatures of 3400 degrees. They talking about slag coming out and being cooled from 2800 degrees to 180 degrees. They're saying they're going to recycle a lot of this into their kiln thing. Don't you think -- I mean we're running into an energy crisis. You're talking temperatures that high, my mind clicks to cogeneration. You could be making power from this plant, if you built this plant or if you built a plant half its size. We are dealing with temperatures when you got to get an item down from 2800 degrees to 180 degrees, and I don't care, and you're talking about, blowing fresh air into it. Water boils at 212 degrees. You can make steam you can run turbines. So I mean this is the type of thought and when the vice president came in and said, well, when we started to design this, you know we designed it and we thought we had a good idea and then other people came and told us, well, what about this? And we said, oh, well, that's a good idea. No, that's not the way a corporate citizen works. The corporate citizen doesn't wait for others to come to them, they go out and search the best solutions. They put their time, their money, their energy into finding what the best solutions to the problem is. And what they're talking about is that they have found the best solutions for the cost.
Last but not least, no, it's not least but they'll cut me off anyway. You talk about and there's two people that talked about it in here today, and both of them were from the blue side -- the blue meanies. We do need a mix. You do need a mix in this area. We cannot depend on biodynamic agriculture. We cannot depend, unfortunately, on garden designers. Time and Space Limited. All are needed, but we have a history here. You've got Caz that's been operating down there for years, a viable manufacturing plant that manufactures, controls its waste stream. You got up and coming organizations. Pederson, Gillis, Furs a custom architectural millwork company located out by the Wal-Mart, employes 60, 70 seventy people there. Ships products down to the New York City, Boston area. You got Dyno Machining, which is making custom diamond tooled engineering tools for the woodworking firm. I know about this because I'm a woodworker. So these type of things, but you put a plant like this into this area and you talk about traffic streams like this, other people are going to come in and go, oh, wait a minute. How am I going to get my material in and out? How am I going to get my employees in and out? Where do I fit in? Right. And when, and when the brown-outs do come and whatever happens with the Athens plant because that's as much power as we make, that's as much power as we use, SLC's going to say you can't shut us down. We run 24 hours a day. You got to shut that poor bastard down. Brown him out. He's only got 60 people, I got 145.
So these are things that I think are in the DIS, their own information and then have to be considered scrubbing and all that other thing, and the plume, yes. I'm not denying that, the importance of that. And we have covered that ad nauseam today. But these are other issues that I think that really, and it's really important I think for the people, for the employees of SLC to be thinking about this, talking about this among themselves. Right. And having been through in parts of the world. I went to school for ten years to get my undergraduate degree in Washington State and suffered through them with both the logging and the salmon fishing. You see the problems with cod fishing off the eastern coast. These are changes that are coming to our society but the solution is not to dig in your heels and say no I will not change, I will not move I want to do this. You have to show some flexibility. You have to be prepared to change. And SLC is saying, yeah, we'll change. We'll just make more. And that is not the solution. It's not the solution for the health for of the community. It's not the solution for the employees of SLC. It's not a long term solution, which is what we're not looking at here. We need to be looking at long term solutions, things that we have, unfortunately, not remembered from the lessons of the past.
Okay. How long is this plant going to be here? It took them 24 years. They bought the old Atlas plant or whatever it is in 1975. In 1999 they found an adaptive reuse of it. They changed the changing room into a testing place that employs three people. Okay. Did they take the kilns down? Did they take the silos down? Did they take the towers back up? LAW JUDGE: Mr. Chess, you're going to have to wrap up.
MR. CHESS: Okay. I'm just saying we need a broader perspective. We need a longer term perspective. We do not need to be making brown fields for 50 years from now. We need to know that those dumps are going to be looked at. And the bottom line is, getting back to my xenophobia, hey, these guys ain't an American company. So if the S hits the fan, so to speak, they'll back out. They'll be history. We can't get at them. And we'll be left with superfund sites that we're paying for. Thank you.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Hillary Hillman. Monica Mechling. Deborah Tibensky. Jeff Rigby. Wilson Shea. Melissa Sarris, Bruce Gardner. And after Mr. Gardner, Sarah Sterling.
SARAH STERLING: I'm Sarah Sterling.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: I'm sorry. I thought there was a speaker before you who was coming down. You are.
BRUCE GARDNER: Bruce Gardner.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Go ahead.
BRUCE GARDNER: Good evening, Judge Goldberger. I guess by some counts I'm an outsider I've been a permanent resident in Columbia County for 24 years. I moved here from Boston at the urging of my two eldest children who said that the air was a little dirty and crummy in Boston and they wanted to live in the country and climb trees. We came here as a life style decision.
I believe that within 24 hours I can probably create a list of at least 200 families that I have made acquaintance with since I've lived here who also came to Columbia County as a live style decision. They came here, although they might not have used these words to describe their decision, they came here because they had a fundamental and deep and abiding value and interest in what we now have come to call sustainability. In those system conditions in the environment, in the environment, which then gives rise to the optimal health standard of living and well being for their children and their children to come. Now while I may have been an outsider, my children I believe would not be considered outsiders and my children's children, my grandchildren who live in the county neither would they. What I'd like to speak about briefly is not more of the issues that I'm sure will be handled in elaborate details during the issues conference, not more of the quantitative detail, but a little bit on that which is not easily measured. I might mention that during my tenure in Columbia County I've been employed as a management consultant engaged in doing factory cost management, so I'm quite familiar with the territory.
One of my client's over those years was in fact a manufacturer of components for Knox Reduction. It was very interesting and ironic, I think, that that company while lobbying heavily for tighter environmental air quality standard was simultaneously lobbying for waivers on air quality in their own plants from the discharge from their own plant. This shouldn't surprise us. Neither should the actions I believe of St. Lawrence Cement surprise us. The parameter on which this plant and all other corporations, multinational and national, the primary parameter is fulfilling their fiduciary duty, to harbor, conserve and enhance the assets of their corporation for the benefit of their stockholders, their employees and other stake holders. Those of us who live in Columbia County would probably be considered other stake holders. The primary parameter, therefore, is quite simply the bottom line.
But what I want to mention and talk about, however, is this. And that is what sort of possibilities would fall into the category of unknown and unknowable? While I was employed as a management consultant I had the opportunity to meet with and study with Dr. W. Edward Demming, who is a quality guru whose work is credited with restoring Japanese industry after World War II. He said one of the most important things are unknown and unknowable.
While we can measure, for example, the defects of the manufacturing process, we can't measure the number of people who walked away and abandoned that product and that company because of that poor quality. So what is quantifiable is easy. What is unquantifiable, unfortunately, is not always easy to ascertain. I would submit that some of the most important things about the proposed plant and its impact would fall under the category of unknown and unknowable. For example, what sort of future possibilities would be foreclosed if this plant were here? What in fact will happen to the real estate values? We don't really know what will happen. But if our county, which has as one of its leading desirable factors its rural beauty, is destroyed and that perception is destroyed in the media what will happen to people who come here seeking new opportunities, new places to live and the tranquility and so on.
Let's not discount the economic impact of that. As a significant wage earner I imported lots of money into Columbia County that stayed here. More importantly, how many people who come here as life style choices have done so in order to set down roots and build businesses that might have significant future impact.
I'll only mention one anecdotal instance. Three young families moved into our area. They called themselves Northeast Natural Builders. They have come in order to build a business here that will build straw built homes and use green technologies. That is to say not using polluting and potentially cancer-causing materials in building. And that's a small business that just started. It's just in the process of incorporating. In five years how many employees will they have? To say only ten is probably dubious. They may have 20, 30, 50. They may invent technologies, in fact, in the process of building their business that caused this to become a very, very large value adding business, a business that in fact is the cutting edge of what's important not only for our generation or our children's generations but going forward.
How many such businesses are there? I would urge those who achieve party status to the issues conference begin to look at how many people are out there in burgeoning businesses? The previous speaker said we can't rely on biodynamic agriculture and yet how many people make their living now in organic and sustainable opportunities.
I'd also like to suggest that the real parameter by which we judge these plants is not what can be wheedled within the existing laws, but really what we would all say, what every mother would say and this is that -- no pollution is good pollution. But the real standard for plants going into the future, though it is yet to become the legal standard, is zero emission plants. That we must, must go back and set a realistic standard. We must ask that St. Lawrence Cement and any other polluters that want to be existing in this area go back to the drawing board. It is my suggestion that they look at all possible opportunities for retrofitting the current Catskill plant, therefore not jeopardizing the current employment base and go back to the drawing board and let's invent, in fact, state of the art technology which I would hope that many, many of us would endorse a zero emission plant. Therefore, I urge and invite the St. Lawrence Cement Company to, at this point, withdraw completely their application. Go back to the drawing board. Let's create a safe, sane, economically feasible future for all of us. Thank you.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: After Sarah Sterling, Margaret Davidson.
SARAH STERLING: My name is Sarah Sterling. I'm a full time resident and property owner of the city of Hudson. I have three daughters and a granddaughter. I'm also a photographer and many of my photos of the balloons I believe have been introduced by others. A building I own in the 500 hundred block already has an enormous steel girder through its basement. This was work done to prop up the whole block sliding towards the river. So I have concerns about the effect of blasting. I have attended most of the forum meetings and still working my way through the DEIS. I spent about 12 hours reading it so far. I've been struck by a lot of inconsistencies in the DEIS, which caused me to question the character of this company. For example, in the executive summary, they state that there will be an 82 foot pump house and 115 cement base loader. In later chapters they say it will be the pump house and 56 foot conveyor recovery station. One of the diagrams shows the 82 foot pump house and a 60 foot electrical building that's not mentioned elsewhere.
In Chapter 2 figure 2-12 there's a picture of the dock area from Promenade Hill stating it is the current view, but with the present silo completely missing you can see that it has been digitally erased. Another view 2-14 states it's a view of the lighthouse from Athens. It is in fact a view of the lighthouse from the Hudson side. In all of the descriptions of Athens as a lovely, historic town there is no mention of the gigantic power plant that's being built or of the combined pollution factors. In Chapter 3 they state that the populations of Hudson, Greenport and Columbia County are expected to decrease and then show a chart showing increases in all three. That's table 3-7.
I can't be an expert on the pollution factors, but if I found this many errors so far how can I or you be expected to trust any information given.
In Chapter 5 they state that if the new plant isn't built the rotting eyesores will remain standing. Their words are visual detriments. The countryside is littered already with rotting abandoned plants. And I would like to think that any plant coming into a community now would pledge to act responsibly and clean up their mess. Perhaps post a bond and why not take down the river silo and stack on Route 9 right now? Why wait and suggest by blackmail that they won't be removed unless we agree to the new plant? Where is the guarantee that these detriments will be removed in five years? Another concern is the CFX railroad crossing. There's been a lot of press recently about the closing of level crossings in Germantown, the next town down from here. In fact, all of the level railroad crossings are expected to be put out of commission with the new fast trains coming through. Access will have to be over or under. There's a small bridge with a five ton load maximum leading to the boat launch, which I doubt will be adequate for the proposed construction.
I hear from the mass mailing we are all millionaires, all who are opposed to the plant. Let me tell you, I feel like a millionaire. Since moving here I've joined a community of loving, intelligent, creative individuals who are committed to making Hudson a city of diversity on all levels. There's no question that diversity helps the community to thrive but there's a limit to whether a community can allow and still maintain the quality of life which makes Hudson what it is now. I thank you for your attention.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Can we get your statement? Thank you. Margaret Davidson. And next Kerry Leigh.
MARGARET DAVIDSON: Good evening. My name is Margaret Davidson and I'm co-chair of the Landscape Viewshed Committee of the Olana Partnership. We are very concerned about the visual impacts of the St. Lawrence Cement Plant on the viewshed and about acid deposition from the plant's air emissions dangering the historic structures. The Olana Partnership is a private not-for-profit educational corporation of about 800 members, whose mission is to advocate for and support the conservation, preservation, development and improvement of Olana and its integral viewshed. And otherwise, promote, conserve, preserve, develop and interpret the Olana state historic site for the benefit of the public for this and future generations.
Olana was the home of the reknowned 19th Century painter, Frederick Church, whose passion for creating a house and a 250 acre landscape at the center of the world equaled his interest in putting paint to canvas. With approximately 150,000 visitors a year Olana is the fourth most visited site in the Hudson Valley. It is estimated that Olana brings in $7 million annually to the region. And we anticipate even larger numbers and we have implemented our comprehensive plan. We have also received designation as part of the Greenway Trail System, which will facilitate significant linkages with other trails in the area and further increase our visibility and add to the number of people visiting the site. Olana is treasured for the panoramic views it provides. Views which are protected resources. To quote from Conserving Open Spaces in New York state 1998, "the conservation of the exceptional views of the Hudson River and surrounding areas from this state historic site will preserve the significant cultural and scenic resource.".
Restoration of Olana's viewshed to their appearance during Church's time will expand the viewshed and increase public enjoyment. It will augment Olana's historic significance of the national historic landmark and respond to the National Parks Service concern over threats to its setting. The Parks Service has placed Olana on a landmark's watch list because of threats to its viewshed. The plant would dominate the views from important points on the Olana property.
The Olana Partnership is concerned that the St. Lawrence Cement plant and its plume would be a focal point in the viewshed on both the ridge road, the carriage trail closest to the house and therefore likely to get the most foot traffic once the restoration is implemented, and from Cozy Cottage, Church's original family house. The DEIS does not mention the historical significance of Olana's viewshed. It just treats it like any other viewshed.
We are also concerned that the truck traffic, trucks carrying clinkers, cement and cement kiln dust would be a significant factor in both visitors' safety and experience in approaching the site and that the noise of the truck traffic will be a factor while visitors are touring the house and the grounds.
We are very concerned about the effects of air emissions on the fabric of the house and the landscape. The highly decorated exterior of Olana is constructed of stone, brick, terra cotta, stucco, wood, metal such as lead-coated copper roofing, gold leaf, tin-plated steel roofing, glass and painted canvas. Substantial emissions are projected even with opposing of the Catskill plant. Acid deposition modeling was applied to 18 sensitive receptors supplied by the DEC. These receptors do not include Olana, a national historic landmark. In conclusion, we are concerned that the siting of this plant so close to Olana will severely effect the historic viewshed, the fabric of of the house, the public's enjoyment of the site due to the visual impact and damage to the structures and deny the importance of Olana in the history of Hudson Valley. Thank you.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: We're going to take a five minute break.
(Whereupon, the hearing was.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: I don't see that we're going to go much more than an hour more. We have maybe 50 speakers more signed up. I'm going to be very strict and try to limit people to two minutes. So please have courtesy for your fellow speakers and try to limit yourselves to two minutes so that we can get through the rest of these cards this evening. And I thank you in advance for your cooperation.
Kerry Leigh. Deborah Marinelli.
DEBORAH MARINELLI: Your Honor, thank you. I will be very brief. It's worth the wait of 11 hours for me to speak for two minutes because I believe I'm the only person in this room who grew up within 18 miles of the Midlothians cement cluster. I was born in Texas. I was raised in Cameron County. I have two siblings who are asthmatics. I have a father who died of emphysema. I have a mother who is in the chronically ill stages of emphysema. We are not a smoking family, nor is our part of Texas a refinery part of Texas. Pollution is due to cement.
Coming into this process I believed that it was going to be virtually impossible to get our officials to talk down a company with such deep pockets, so I've limited my attention to trying to see what we could suggest to them as neighbors that they provide for our community and working with scientists at the University of Texas. Oh, the claim is of experts in urban study. I got from Texas and downwinders and Midlothians three suggestions, one I bet that St. Lawrence would dismiss, but Phil Lochbrunner, Denise Burbaker and members of the forum invited us to bring very specific questions forward so that they could help our community.
These are two that associates in Texas suggested that we put forward. One was a filtrated air system for seniors and for children, especially those whose lungs were still developing and stipulated this should be filtrated air not air conditioning, which is not sufficient to protect developing lungs from cement pollution. The second suggestion that they brought forward was for St. Lawrence to volunteer to capitalize a fund in the amount of $2 million, which was a pretty modest sum considering they have 16 to 20 million dollars at that point invested in PR that could be used for uninsured patients with respiratory distress, particularly uninsured children and seniors. And there was also a suggestion made by Texans that this policy be tapped by those, for example, on Medicare. My father was virtually gasping like a fish before Medicare certified him oxygen ready and such a trust fund could be tapped into to make people who will be sickened by St. Lawrence Cement more comfortable as they die. Thank you.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Thank you.
DEBORAH MARINELLI: They never responded. They never even gave me the courtesy of a note or a go to hell. Thank yo.
LAW JUDGE:Howard Cort. HOWARD CORT: Thank you, Judge. And as a fellow employee of New York state, retired, I want to welcome you to the county. I am astonished that I am your first state employee to speak. I moved here 39 years ago. Worked for the state 35 years, almost all of it as a program analyst. As a program analyst my entire professional life was concerned with considering alternatives. And I think alternatives are very important, and I think many plans lack that, and I believe, Phil, I believe that your plan lacks that often.
For instance, you go in and explain why using coal under new technology will be, you know, very good. But then you give one/fifth of that space to discussing gas. You don't go into anything about the technology that can be done to improve gas. Very sparse consideration of coal versus gas.
In addition, I attended the forum on August second last year and there was a pathologist Dr. Laura Green, senior scientist and president of Tubrick Environmental. She presented a very detailed report on the particular cement plant in terms of its health effects on people who worked in the plant, people who were clerical workers, who were production workers, who had sicknesses, who smoked, who didn't smoke, who lived in the neighborhood. All these men, women, age groups, etc., you know it was a quite interesting report. I am someone who is very slow in coming to decisions because I've spent all my life considering alternatives, but I went up to her after the program and I said to her, Dr. Green, this plant you reported on what was the fuel that was used in that plant? She said, I don't know. She didn't know what fuel was used. Now to me that was very significant. I would have, you know, I think that's turning the tides. I decided to join Friends of Hudson. I considered that was, you know, a type of sloppy scientific work.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Thank you, Mr. Cort.
HOWARD CORT: Can I make one more point.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Go ahead.
HOWARD CORT: I'd like to recommend that St. Lawrence Cement in cooperation with Friends of Hudson and other interactive groups devise a plan to consider comparison between gas and coal plants and between different size plants. Develop a plan to do this. Computer monitoring, bring in some universities in the area and really examine. The hell with the past. Let's go forward. You guys didn't do such a great job but we're not perfect either. Let's work together and skip those deficiencies and come up with some answers so we can become a unified community again. A sense of community is more important to me than winning a battle.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Thank you. Cynthia Richards. Amanda Waters. Elizabeth Hershey. Perry Cooney. Andrew Clemente. Betsy Casten. Chris Stearn. John Ashbery. David Kermani. Pacil Casimir. Ernest Joseph. Bernadette Dominque. Elizabeth Diggs. Nora Adelman. Elizabeth.
ELIZABETH DIGGS: Hello, Judge Goldberger. I'm Elizabeth Diggs. I live in Chatham, New York. I would like to talk about two things. The first thing I would like to say something about is asthma. I am asthmatic and have been since I was 17 years old. I never go anywhere without my inhaler.
The statistics that are in the DEIS about dust are a great concern to me and to everyone who is concerned with asthma, which is almost everyone. There is almost no household in the country that is not affected in some way by -- that does not have a person who suffers from asthma. It's a disease that is growing tremendously. The PM 10 and the PM 2.5 particles that will be emitted from the stack are dust -- very fine dust and not so very fine dust. This is something that aggravates asthma.
I first developed asthma when I was 17 when I was in a state fair arena where there was a lot of dust in the air. It can be triggered, asthma can be triggered by dust or by other allergens. Many, many people -- the increase in the dust from this plant over the one in Greenport will be 200 percent, according to their draft environmental impact statement. Of course, not according to their publicity and ad campaign which is a cynical campaign that I ask you to consider when you come to make a decision about whether to grant this permit. Consider the cynicism of the publicity and advertising campaign that has tried to pitch rich against poor, locals against newcomers, blue collars against the idle rich, and full timers against weekenders, when in fact it is really a conflict between truth and falsehood. Thank yo.
LAW JUDGE:Nora Adelman. Anna Nitschke. ANNA NITSCHKE: Hi, I'm Anna Nitschke. I'm 14 years old. I live in Claverack I go to Hawthorne Valley and I volunteer at a day care center. I think that St. Lawrence is very bad for our area. Hudson was becoming a nice place until SLC came along. It would give our community a bad name and also pollute the air and may even cause cancer and lead to death. We have to protect our animals and young children. Look at how nice Hudson is. Our beautiful river and mountain views, that's what attracts people. I like where I live now and I'm sure many other people who live near the river do also and they don't want to have to move away from their nice and beautiful area because of a stupid cement plant. Thank you.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Ian Nitschke.
IAN NITSCHKE: Judge Goldberg. Thank you for the opportunity to speak my name is Ian Nitschke. I live in a 1767 Dutch house in the historic hamlet of Claverack, less than two miles from the proposed cement factory on Crook Mountain. I've been active in preservation issues for most of my life. Most recently I submitted testimony and a brief as a private citizen in the Athen Generation siting forum proceeding, and I am a party to the federal lawsuit against the Army Corp of Engineers. In 1992 I founded and I am currently president of Clover Reach, a Claverack historical preservation organization whose purpose is to preserve and enhance Claverack's heritage, charm and vitality. The idea of siting a dirty cement plant near one of the most historic and scenic areas in the Hudson Valley is completely opposite to the aspirations of Clover Reach. The proposed cement factory would degrade Claverack's heritage, destroy its charm and deplete its vitality.
As part of the community preservation coalition Clover Reach opposes the siting of this plant and in the coming months will develop conclusive evidence that the proposed cement plant should not be built.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Thank you.
IAN NITSCHKE: I'm going to skip a page and go to the end and say that in the late 1970s during the debate on the siting of the nuclear power plant in Cementon with an alternative site in Athens Dr. Barbara Novack, chairman of the department of art history at Bard College and professor of art history at Columbia University said of the siting of the Olana: This area is the heart of American 19th Century culture. If anyone were to ask me to pinpoint on the entire continent one area of landscape that the nation as a whole and the federal government specifically should designate as a national landmark as a step toward the preservation of our American past and culture I would choose this area.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Thank you.
IAN NITSCHKE: John Windemean of the National Gallery of Art joined Novack in this regard. Portions of the Hudson Valley should be kept as pure as Yosemite, and this is one of them. There are some crucial places that should be forever wild. One can fairly argue that this is one. Thank you.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Thank you. Peggy Lampman. And after Ms. Lampman, Joseph Tedesco.
PEGGY LAMPMAN: Thank you, Judge Goldberger for the opportunity to speak. My name is Peggy Lampman. I live on Route 23B in the hamlet of Claverack in a Dutch house dating from in 1767. I have lived in Columbia County my entire life and I have been a real estate broker in Claverack for 20 years. I am firmly opposed to the proposal that you are considering today. A polluting monster cement plant is totally out of scale with our community for reasons to numerous to mention and you heard many of them today. I'd like to speak personally as a neighbor who has seen many changes over the years. I remember the old cement plant and people washing their cars with vinegar and I remember a depressed town with a few stores but not much to offer. I remember urban renewal coming to town and tearing down historic buildings, raising the now blue complex on the river and the highrise, and shoddily renovating some old buildings into low income apartments. I remember Hudson as a depressed town with nice old buildings in disrepair. I remember it as a place that people from other parts of this county avoided.
Even as the rest of the county drew tourists and weekenders and the economy expanded. Hudson was forgotten. Real estate prices rose but not in Hudson. Then something changed. People took notice of Hudson's wealth of historic buildings and its location on the river. Antique dealers and artists came and started to renovate the empty stores and homes with private money and hard work and more came until Hudson was known as a destination for people to visit and shop. They came from New York, they came from further and they came from other parts of this county. They saw an amazing transformation and they told others and the real estate prices rose. Restaurants, gift shops, home furnishing stores, clothing stores and even a high fashion cosmetic store have opened on Warren Street. Why? Because people have moved out of urban areas for the refreshing beauty, clean air and overall quality of life they see here.
People were born here and left this depressed area they grew up in and have come back as weekenders, and renewed a business here and a residence once again. We heard some of them speak earlier today. The cosmetic store I mentioned came about because a weekender owned a company and opened a warehouse here and then a store in town.
This is just one example of the type of growth that can and will happen but only without SLC. We need to encourage small businesses, clean industry and the kind of jobs that will keep our children here. These businesses will not come to an area with a monstrous polluting plant. We hear the argument that our children will leave because there are no jobs and the cement plant will keep them here. Wrong. A cement plant would drive them away to the areas of the very businesses we want here went to instead of coming here because of SLC. And there are some local residents that are afraid of the changes that come with a new and thriving economy and the influx of outsiders. These changes are great for the county and we need to embrace them. The outsiders can help us because they have been where they don't want it to be like here. They've come here because they love the area and now they are fiercely protective. We can take advantage of them and their knowledge and the diversity they bring. SLC on the other hand is the real outsider, a real corporate giant looking to make tons of money from tons of cement, caring nothing about the local residents, only taking advantage of us and our weaknesses and trying to divide us more in their own interest.
SLC will ruin our environment and our health, lower our real estates values, hurt our present economy and any chance for improving it. We must say no to this manipulative giant. Thank you very muc.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Thank you. Joseph Tedesco. Jack Harrell. Leslie. I'm sorry.
JACK HARRELL: Thank you, Judge Goldberger and associate.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: You need to speak into the microphone.
JACK HARRELL: Thank you, Judge Goldberger and the associates and Mr. Higgins, if you're still here for conducting this.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: I can't hear a word.
JACK HARRELL: Okay. Thank you, Judge Goldberger and associates for hearing us. And we're in a pivotal time and I think you know that. We're in the 21st Century and I'm going to make some proposals I hope now that St. Lawrence could probably embrace if they want to. But it will mean changing their 19th Century industrial mentality.
First, for the people who work in their Catskill plant, one person from that plant said that they would embrace any multimillion dollar company.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: You can't put that in front of your face. We can't hear you.
JACK HARRELL: One person from Greenport, from Catskill said that they would embrace any multimillion dollar company that wanted to bring work here. Well, in the past that has happened. Canada Dry was here --
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: You can't put that in front of your face. We can't --
JACK HARRELL: Canada dry was here, they left. The Max Factor was here, they left. Lonestar was here, they left. Atlas was here and they left. Atlas was really United States steel. In my home town United States Steel reduced their production and ruined families. American Ship Building closed their plant and reduced families to poverty. And I think that's quite similar to what happened in Hudson when other industries left.
Now after, Atlas is now being taken over by St. Lawrence. I would like to suggest that St. Lawrence keep the people they have working now and do not reduce the work force for the life of that plant. Also, that they don't build a $4 million plant robot to the plant like they have done with Midlothian. I'm most concerned about pollution and the health effects of that pollution.
I would propose, as has been done earlier this evening, that St. Lawrence do something like has been done by Hurlon in Midlothian, Texas. Midlothian, Texas plant has an additional kiln right next to the original one. The capacity of that plant almost equals the one that's being proposed in Greenport. I propose that St. Lawrence build another kiln in Catskill with all of the proven safety devices and all those experimental devices that they have done nothing more than give computer modeling examples of. Load this new kiln with these protective devices, add zero pollution coming from that plant, continue to employ 154 or 155 employees that they have, and I believe that St. Lawrence has the wherewithal to do that.
We now are putting through a multinational effort men and women in space, building things in space which we could not have done 20 years ago. 20 years ago we did not know the effects of the PM 2.5. We now know it. St. Lawrence knows it.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Thank you, Mr. Harrell.
JACK HARRELL: Yes. I would like to see them accept this challenge.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Leslie Gabosh. Karl Gabosh. Matthew Allen. And after Mr. Allen Norma Ramos.
MATTHEW ALLEN: Your Honors, thank you for hearing me at this late hour. My name is Matthew Allen. I am a consultant to St. Lawrence Cement. I am the primary author of Section 5 official resources of the DEIS. I didn't intend to speak tonight, but I've heard repeated by numerous speakers -- six by my count -- misinformation based on facts that I put into the DEIS, and I'd like to clarify that for the record at this time.
Six times tonight I've heard the record to a six mile plume emanating from the plant. That's not accurate. I believe this information originated in a press release issued by Friends of Hudson and subsequently published in several media sources. Information like that, inaccurate if it's repeated often enough tends to become fact or at least perceived as facts. I'd like to give you the correct information as contained in the DEIS and I have absolute confidence in DEC staff that they will understand the factual information in the DEIS.
There will not be a six mile plume emanating from the plant. The average plume emanating from the plant during the winter months, which is the worst case plume formation season, is approximately 250 meters or about 800 feet. The Friends of Hudson press release indicated that a six mile plume would extend all the way to the hamlet of Philmont. An 800 foot plume, as is factual information contained in the DEIS, will in fact remain over St. Lawrence property. It will not extend over Newman Road. There's quite a difference between an 800 meter -- 800 foot plume and a 6.38 mile plume.
I believe the number that was derived as 6.38 miles comes from the figure of the longest calculated plume that is reported in the DEIS, which is 10,000 meters and that does in fact translate to 6.38 miles. However, that plume occurred in a study data one hour out of a study year. Literally, we looked at the atmospheric data every hour of every day for an entire year, calculated the longest plume that would form, the shortest plume that would form, the average plume length and the medium plume length.
In the Friends of Hudson press release the only number that was discussed was the longest plume. That plume has a frequency of -- and as we rounded in the DEIS to the nearest tenth of a percent, that plume has a frequency of zero percent. Somewhere slightly more than zero, about .02 percent of the hours of the daylight hours of the year. Your Honor, I think it's critically important that information be corrected on the record. Thank you very muc.
LAW JUDGE:Thank you. Norma Ramos. And then Tony Cashen. NORMA RAMOS: Good evening, Judges. Tonight I offer this testimony on behalf of the New York State Environmental Justice Coalition. This coalition is a statewide coalition consisting of eight environmental justice organization. And I am a founder, one of the founders of the environmental justice movement. And one of the things that, one of the principles that guides my work is that poor people and people of color should not have to trade away their health, their children's or the health of their communities for a job. And it is also unacceptable for anyone in the community to ask a whole county, a whole region to trade away the health of their community so that a few members could have a job.
Now just this past Monday I attended training at the EPA. And it was on their GIS that they're developing, a geographic informational system, and its application to EJ. And during this training I used Hudson as my model and it confirmed what I suspected for some time now and that is that Hudson is considered under the EPA developing environmental justice GIS, a potential EJ area. Map A which I had them make for me, shows that 95 percent of African Americans who live in Columbia County reside in Hudson. This county is an extremely segregated county. The mapping I did under the GIS also shows that Hudson is already host to 11 regulated facilities. Now, Judge, you know that this facility density is what we call in the EJ movement a clustering. It could be argued persuasively, I think, that the siting that has been allowed to take place over the years in Hudson-Greenport reads like a prima facie case of clustering. In fact, not unlike Harlem, where I live, the South Bronx, East Harlem or Arbor Hill could serve -- Hudson could serve as a case study of what environmental racism looks like.
Accordingly, it would be a mistake not to view this permit application as having serious environmental justice implications. As a former administrative law judge myself for over ten years I have learned that sometimes the most compelling evidence is the evidence that is not presented. That insufficient resources have so far been assigned to the minority community to assist them in acting on their own behalf to defend themselves from yet another massively polluting facility should not be read as evidence of acquiescence by this community. Indeed, it is my experience that communities that suffer from decades of concentrated poverty, as we have here in Hudson -- employment and housing discrimination, underfinanced schools -- are the very same communities that are most vulnerable to environmental racism. I also think that when this community does find its voice it will be speaking the language of Title 6, as did the overburdened community in Camden, New Jersey recently did when they found themselves subject to yet another unjust permitting.
On that note, I am reminded of my friend, Professor Mcqueary-Smith's words who teaches at Tauro Law School and she writes prolifically on environmental racism. She advances the argument that so much of environmental racism is accomplished through the use of lawyers and judges. She argues that there needs to be an ethical paradigm shift where lawyers and judges no longer assist in concentrating polluting facilities in communities of color and poor communities. And in that process violating these community's civil and human rights. So additionally and finally with respect to the DEIS, for the record, Judge, that you know the SEQR requires that all permit applicants disclose all significant pollutants. This DEIS is curiously quiet on the subject of PM 2.5., because when you come to your decision, which I thought was courageous and just on the AMR case, I know that you are fully aware of how lethal PM 2.5 is and that such information is critical to a community that is already showing high rates of respiratory illness. This omission alone renders this DEIS fatally flawed. And I thank you.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Thank you. Tony Cashen. After Mr. Cashen Erin Sheedy.
TONY CASHEN: Justice Goldberger, my name is Tony Cashen and today I represent Columbia County Citizens For Better Information. We are a concern that during the process of DEC and community review of the proposed Greenport project there's been a lack of open and accurate disclosure by SLC on a number of issues relative to you in the permitting process. I would like to devote my brief comments to one, a more specific area of information within the DEIS that we feel has been incompletely -- LAW JUDGE: You have to slow down. TONY CASHEN: Incompletely and inaccurately represented. That area deals with the projected economic impact and contribution to the project it is expected to make to our community. At the present time there is a positive public and political viewpoint that the return of cement production to Hudson and Greenport by St. Lawrence Cement will have a highly stimulative effect on employment and the economy in the city, town and county. These perceptions are based entirely upon assumptions and projections presented by St. Lawrence Cement and not carefully analyzed, validated or proven by any independent analysis.
The financial and economic representations made by St. Lawrence Cement in its original DEIS were not adjusted or revised in any manner whatsoever after increased questions and requests were made for amplification by concerned parties. Toady's final EIS contains the exact original assumptions issued in Section 380 of the DEIS of last September 29th. The Columbia County Citizens For Better Information believes that the figures upon which profit by public and political support for St. Lawrence Cement's proposal has been based on are inaccurate, incorrect, exaggerated and misleading. It is essential not only for the development of an informed public but also for DEC and other permitting agencies that they understand the real economics proposed, and proposed benefits and balancing those against the cost that are intended with the approval of the SLC project.
The economical financial analysis which I will leave with you will present more information to you by July 2nd. They have been developed by the Columbia County Citizens For Better Information with the assistance of Bob Pauls, president of Robert D. Pauls, LLC, an economic consultant called in by the community forum as a speaker and expert witness at its September 27 meeting last fall.
The purpose of that session forum was to address the economic and employment ramifications of the proposed SLC project. At that forum meeting Mr. Pauls raised a number of questions and urged forum members to seriously examine the assumptions and projections presented by SLC. On careful examination he had concluded that the purported $700 economic simulation completed by the Capital District Regional Planning Bureau for the Columbia-Hudson Partnership was completed without questioning or validating the correctness of any of St. Lawrence's assumptions or data that they directly used as input for the modeling that is the basis of the partnership endorsement of the SLC project.
In fact, I understand that the bureau subsequently admitted that the projections were probably incorrect. As far as we have been able to determine the questions raised by Mr. Pauls and informed members and the request for additional information were never answered by St. Lawrence Cement. Notwithstanding the above incomplete and evaluation analysis of the economic and employment limitations of the SLC project, the Columbia-Hudson Partnership, the Columbia Board of Supervisors, the Hudson-Greenport Civic Officials and the general public have been led to believe that there will be significant employment and related real net economic benefits arising form the building and operation of the Greenport plant and its related quarry, waterfront and transportation facility. We believe that this is not true. I will submit just two quick thoughts to you. One is the exhibit I'll provide to you which takes directly from the DEIS all of the information on the construction phase. And secondly the exhibit that takes all the information on the annual operating phase.
Those figures show that the proposed construction of $320 million and by their own admission 121 of that to be, basically 121 million of that to be in local benefit. When you really analyze those figures, and give the benefit of the doubt to SLC's projection, without question you come up with an actual probable assumed direct input of $71 million during the construction phase, not 121.
Likewise, if you look carefully and evaulate, we have evaluated very carefully the economic benefits on an annual basis and you realize there could be very little net new employment and you analyze those figures instead of the $49,160,000 as they project as annual contributions to the local economy that number really works out to be, because we're only talking about net new value, $9.8 million, one-fifth of what they project. I submit this information to you. I think it deserves very careful examination because you have to measure the trade off between costs and benefits. People talk a lot about costs tonight but they haven't talked about economic benefits and the economic benefits proposed by St. Lawrence Cement are totally exaggerate.
LAW JUDGE:Thank you, Mr. Cashen. Can you leave your statement with us? Erin Sheedy. Jesse Felter. Karl Gabosh. Todd Gitlin. And after Mr. Gitlin, Amerize Vendredi.
TODD GITLIN: Judge Goldberger, you've been extremely patient. I can't help but observe that this outpouring of democratic sentiment in opposition to the plant lasting now almost 11 hours, I've been here for six hours of it, and I've heard perhaps 50 or 100 cogent fact-based arguments made against the plant in the presence of dozens, maybe scores of defenders of the plant. Not until a few minutes ago did I hear anyone rise to attempt to refute even one of the arguments made against the plant. I heard that one claim, regardless of its merits, I think this speaks to the Swiss emperor without clothes. I'll just say a few things. To me it seems that this situation, although it looks complicated is actually very simple. There's a company owned in Switzerland, that through its Canadian subsidiary is asserting its right to build this gargantuan coal-burning factory that it would not be permitted to build in Switzerland. We have heard a great deal, which I will not attempt to duplicate, about the outrageous risks that are entailed, but I cannot get out of my mind this elementary fact that this corporation based in Switzerland, and this is not a xenophobic point, it is simply an observation, that this company has the gall to think that it is doing Columbia County, New York a favor by exploiting its limestone.
This is a company whose other plant sites around the world have committed piles of abuses, despite the lip service they pay to the environment something they seemed to have discovered a week or so ago. When it was convenient we heard from St. Lawrence Cement about the new factory as a boon in employment, and as it turned out that employment at the factory would likely be a wash, give or take a job or so, so it was time to move onto another promise. Follow the moving promise. Now we hear about the gain in construction jobs. We often hear promises about construction jobs but these are generally fewer than promised, the workers are generally trucked in from outside the county, they take their pay checks elsewhere and all too soon their jobs are terminated but the company's waste dumps are not terminated, their smokestacks are not terminated, the damage is done. And as for the promise that loading docks in Catskill -- an issue that came up several hours ago -- will be dismantled if the Greenport factory is built or the promise of scrubbers to protect the workers or the local citizens, while we heard much earlier from Mr. Cook about a company that made promises it didn't keep, this company is a serial promiser, when convenient, and a serial breaker of promises when that is convenient.
They're contending here with what is only incidentally a cement company. It is a company in the business of the manufacture of promises. Promises come and go and the damage stays.
Finally, I cannot help but think about the time when American companies prevented from manufacturing and distributing DDT in the United States dumped their stocks of it in Central America and elsewhere because they could. That was indecent. There are Central Americans still living with those consequences and it will be equally and eqivalently indecent to permit this clanking, poisonous monstrosity to dump upon Columbia County irreversibly. Thank you very muc.
LAW JUDGE:Thank you. Amerizer Vendredi. Leslie Gabosh. Leru Seligman. Leonard Garrison. Enid Futterman. And after Ms. Futterman, Tim Shook.
ENID FUTTERMAN: Good evening, Judge Goldberger. I'm Enid Futterman and I live in Claverack. Is that better? Sorry. I'm a full time resident of Claverack. I have edited my remarks because I don't want to repeat what's already been heard.
I believe that this is a pivotal time in the world, especially in this sublime little corner of it. We can move in the direction of consciousness and concern for one another and for the earth or in the opposite direction we've created and the concerns of the powerful and the few. In this case the few are very few. The only ones who stand to gain are St. Lawrence Cement and its parent companies. Really what it threatened here is real estate, tourism, agriculture, retailing, even industry, especially high tech industry. The building of what would be the equivalent of a 20 to 40 story nightmare town would deeply and permanently alter the character and the health of this region. The food grown and produced here is unaltered, the pace is slow, the stress minimal, the landscape exquisite, the light breathtaking. People are discovering that Columbia County is a nice place to visit and an even nicer place to live. Intelligent but uninformed people are convinced that St. Lawrence Cement has made us an offer we can't refuse, but their conviction is based on perception not reality. An immense amount of unprejudiced research has convinced me that all that we know and love about this enchanted but real place will change drastically and irreparably if St. Lawrence Cement is allowed to do as it pleases. But I still believe in the power of the people to prevail and I still have faith that justice and law can be one and the same. Please don't let this bad dream become true. Thank you.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Thank you. Tim Shook. Sandy Skla. Peter Schwartz.
TIM SHOOK: Yeah, my name is Tim Shook.
LAW JUDGE:You are Tim Shook.
TIM SHOOK: Yeah, I'm Tim Shook. Yes, I've been speaking all around the county for the Hudson Valley Coalition and all the people that I've been talking to about it support the plant. I've been talking to about a thousand people in the last two years and today I've been bringing people in and out all day long. And I support the plant, of course.
My brother Michael works for the St. Lawrence Cement Plant. My grandfather was a cement worker. I don't see a problem with pollution because the old plant and with the new technology I believe it's going to be cleaner for all of us. I'm a fisherman and I have friends that fish every day on the river. They tell me the river is clean and getting cleaner every day. They don't feel that the Catskill plant is affecting them in any way.
Today I brought people from age 18 to 90 years old. The senior citizens I brought today they said their grandfathers, their fathers all worked for Atlas, not one of them died from causes of the cement plant at all. And the same people I brought today, 80 years old, and they're going well. I had about 25, 30 of them here today and there's nothing wrong with them and they told me to tell you the air they've been breathing for all these years is clean and it will be clean with the new technology. They agree with me. And I went to talk to them all at their citizens home. I thank you for your time and effort tonight. And of all the people that came out to support the plant I'd like to thank them all.
And in closing, I truly believe this plant will be clean, like I said before, and everybody I've talked to is from here, New Lebanon, Columbia County are all for it. It just happens to be they can't all talk tonight. Thank you.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Thank you. Peter Schwartz.
PETER SCHWARTZ: Judge Goldberger, I'll try to be brief. I'm here expressing my opposition to the construction of the proposed plant. This most basic premise that of a facility which spews toxic waste into the atmosphere intuitively, if not factually, proves the disingenuousness of SLC's Save the Planet slogan.
In light of this event what does SLC mean when it says it proposes to build a state of the art facility? LAW JUDGE: We can't hear you. PETER SCHWARTZ: Can you lower some 250 on that? Is this better. Lower off the low end, please. Thank you. Lower would be helpful. Lower it all the way around. I'll try to make myself clear. State of the art, as SLC says, is a bad term about which is meant to denote the pinnacle of current technological advance, the best in the business. But for our health sake this best may not be good enough. According to the information I gleaned from SLC's web site, there is no art to the manufacturer of cement. It's a pure science. Chemistry to be exact. And while science can explain the weather, it certainly can't stop the course and intensity of the wind to which St. Lawrence's industrial by-products will be thrown.
To put state of the art into every day perspective, consider the untold number of hours spent by computer owners getting their computers to recover from a crash and resurrecting their lost work. Such an every day experience with state of the art electronics should tell us something about what state of the art really represents. There is every likelihood in my mind that this highly successful billion dollar company wants to build this plant as an extension of corporate ego, an expression of corporate vanity in order to stay on top in their business, but it will be at our expense. St. Lawrence claims that compared to their facility in Catskill their Greenport facility will produce proportionately less pollution per unit of concrete. Now on the surface this sounds good, but SLC actually wants to increase the overall amount of concrete as compared to Catskill.
And I'd like to get into this. You have a school yard bully saying to his regular victim, I'm not going to hit you as hard as I did last time. This time each punch is going to be softer but I'm going to punch you a whole lot more often.
SLC is looking for our support. In light of the fact that they are a billion dollar company, I must ask, What are we going to get in turn for this support? The way I see it, there can be no compensation for damaged health. There is no recompense for the damage done to old growth trees from acid rain. The economic damage done to property values for homes which exist underneath the equivalent of atmospheric Love Canal would be very difficult for individual residents to pursue in a court of law. In short, SLC plans to say thank you for your support by using our land and our lungs as repositories for their waste. I suggest to St. Lawrence that perhaps the time for constructing this particular plant is at some point in the future when they can afford to implement more advanced and effective pollution reducing methods. The stone they wish to quarry will, in all likelihood, still be there five, ten or twenty years from now.
In closing, I would like to quote Gamaliel Baily, a 19th Century journalist who wrote, "Fraud generally lights a candle for justice to get a look at it." And I respectfully suggest, Your Honor, that this candle has already been lit. Thank you.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Thank you. Lenny Collins. Dr. Robert Jacobson.
DR. ROBERT JACOBSON: Your Honor, I'm amazed at your ability to sit for this many hours and listen to all of us. I will not try to repeat anything that's been said. There are just one or two facts that I'd like to bring to your attention. One of the motivating factors behind St. Lawrence's need to build a plant here happens to be the big ditch in Austin. That project will use the total cement capacity of the northeast, and that's a wonderful clump for St. Lawrence to try to capture. So I'm going to not repeat all of the arguments that you've heard. I'm not going to talk about the spin doctors from St. Lawrence. And we just heard Mr. Allen talk about how long the plume will be and not the fact that there is a plume and what is in that plume and what is being spewed out over the community, but I just want to point out my image of what you're doing.
You're blindfolded. You're holding the scales of justice. And what are being weighed on these scales are values. On one side you have the values of a huge company that we heard about over and over again looking at a magnificent bottom line in dollars. You have dollars. The values are based only on dollars to St. Lawrence. On the other side of the scale are people. Human begins whose values are based on life, on health and the quality of existence. You have a tough job but it's pretty obvious which way this balance will turn. Thank yo.
LAW JUDGE:Thank you. We're going to go a half an hour longer and then we're going to say good night. So please take that into consideration. Joe Makonskle. Ronald Misetich. David Reken. Maureen Rodgers. Jim Batterton. Dr. Jeremiah Bennis. Chris Newmann. You are? DR. JEREMIAH BENNIS: Dr. Jeremiah Bennis. Hello. I'm Dr. Bennis. I'm a local veterinarian here in the area and I would just like to speak on some things that I've seen and heard about the plant that's going on in Texas. Now that's where they built the last state of the art plant and when they came in they started burning fossil fuels and most of the residents there didn't mind it until they switched over to garbage. And at that time they noticed the smell first and then some of the horses there came down with a disease called COPD. COPD means chronic obstructed pulmonary disease. And when your horse gets that they lose the value of their horse and you also can't ride it any more.
So I just wanted to -- I'm not a human doctor but I wanted to speak on behalf of the animals. And also, you know, we just want a clean place to live and a clean environment. Now I told myself long ago that I wouldn't fight for things that's for opposition that I'd rather do things that work, for things that would help the environment. And I just wanted to say with all this motion and everyone pulling together for the environment maybe they can continue this momentum and do something good after this is all over. And I want to applaud the community here. Thank you very much.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Chris Newmann. Yasamin Larizadett.
YASAMIN LARIZADETT: Good evening. Thank you. My name is Yazamin. I have a husband, a daughter and a mother that all live in Ghent. Three generations living in the community. We purchased our home in July of 2000 with a 20 year mortgage. Our intent is to stay but I have some concerns.
St. Lawrence Cement repeatedly tells the public the proposed Greenport plant will improve air quality. Fact. They have had numerous citations of hazardous waste and toxic emissions. They continue -- they falsify school tax figures and ads in Greenport and they have been cited for violating civil rights in the community in Camden. With a track record, why should I believe them? I am concerned about my family and my neighbors state of health. The state of art facility just continues to me that toxins will be spewed out into our air. I would like a full listing of possible carcinogenics that would emit from this plant. Arsenic I'm sure is one of them. Then I'd like to hear how St. Lawrence Cement factory will quantify and justify why my family needs to be exposed to these toxins so that St. Lawrence Cement can continue to profit.
In closing, while St. Lawrence Cement continues to profit what will it do to our community -- birth defects, asthma, cancer, poor air quality and contaminated water supply. Thank you, I say. I oppose the plant. I do not want this in my back yard. Thank you.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Naomi Rubin.
NAOMI RUBIN: Over the next two weeks DEC will see receive a lot of information about the positive and negative aspects of the SLC proposal. Personally, I cannot add any additional scientific data to that which you will receive from the experts. I can, however, provide you with information as to what I believe will be the overall effect of this project on the city of Hudson, on Greenport, on Columbia County, on the Hudson River on Athens, on Greene County and on the mid Hudson Valley region in general. Based upon the information I have researched, not only listening to the paid commercials on the radio and television, I have concluded that this plant will harm our environment, harm our precious river, foul our air, have a negative impact on the economic development of the region, not provide sufficient employment for Columbia and Greene County residents, have no sustainable benefit to us, enhance nothing but the company's financial statement and improve the status of the company as a worldwide polluter. In short, harm our region.
Let me remind you that the DEC's mission is to conserve, improve and protect its natural resources and environment and control water, land and air pollution in order to enhance the health, safety and welfare of the people of the state and the overall economic and social well being where in the Hudson River Valley we are all too familiar with the movement to reindustrialize the river. DEC's non-adherence to mission statements when politics and money come into play, hopefully, in this instance will be true to your mission and deny the SLC permits and the chance for them to dirty our homes, foul everyone's river and harm everyone's valle.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Thank you. Ricky Beal. Margherita Davie. Mike Howard. You are.
MARGHERITA DAVIS: Thank you so much for allowing us to voice our concerns here. I, too, am very concerned about the health effects of this plant on our environment and on us. What is happening here? It's my voice. I'm sorry. I'll keep my remarks short.
I just want to say one thing. A number of people have talked about the fact that there are lots of elderly people who seem to be fine and who used to work many years ago in the cement plants and so forth and they came out okay.
The environment today is not your grandfather's any more. The examples from the past simply cannot be compared to today where we are increasingly exposed to the assaults from the complexities of water and life. 35 of Columbia Memorial's 36 physicians have agreed the plant poses a significant health risk. As a nurse living and working here in the shadow of the proposed site of this very large plant, I know that the 14,000 plus nearby inhabitants comprise many more vulnerable individuals than are found in the population of some 500 people who are now exposed to the emissions they are producing. Has anyone done a cost benefit analysis or the health impacts of the increased morbidity and mortality, the rising medical costs, including the medicaid pay-outs which come from our taxes against the purported revenues expected to pay for things like school taxes? If not, shouldn't this be done. Thank you.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Thank you. Mike Howard. Belinda Breeks. Edward Fallon. Amanda Depew. Langdon Winner. Frank Wall.
FRANK WALL: Thank you, Your Honor. I just wanted to be one of the first tonight to thank St. Lawrence Cement. They brought us to a new crossroads as a community. They have done us a big favor because all of us, all good people were here on both sides of the issue and are forcing us to face the real issue and what is it that as a community that we want. SLC proposes a major change in direction for our community. They're asking us to accept the idea that Hudson and its surrounds should be an industrial mill town. There are millions of mill towns across this country and we will be expected to live and breathe the presence of such a plant. I have great expectations for this community, and I think that this plan is too big and it will define this area as a mill town. I think that Hudson has been defined by big businesses for too many years -- first as a whaling town and several other industries that have come through this area. And I would like to see its natural character emerge. I'd like to see small industries, mom and pop industry, tourism, etc., grow as it has been growing the last few years.
I'd like to urge this community not to give away its power to one central being, one central plant. I'd like it to take its responsibility to create jobs, create a community for itself and not give it away, give that responsibility again to St. Lawrence Cement. Thank you.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Thank you. Thomas Francescott. George Baker. Alana Hauptman. John Koenig. Diane Koenig. Steven Lidsky. Della Phillips. Donna Shetsky. Loretta Chakat. Susan Crowdy. Bert Freed. Brian Herman. Sherill Bolevice.
SHERILL BOLEVICE: Thank you, Your Honor. I'm Sherill Bolevice and I live in a small village that was mentioned earlier by the name of Philmont. And, yes, in fact we are about six miles as the crow flies from the plant that's being proposed.
When I began to hear of this project it reminded me of a time in 1988 to 1989, so I'm going to tell this as a story and it's probably going to be some of our bedtime stories but here goes. There was a man in my village who decided through the advice and actual suggestion of a DEC employee that he could fill a ravine on his property with construction and demolition debris. Unfortunately, DEC's permitting process was not as clear then as it is now for these kinds of sites.
This site was one block from my home. I had a nine year old, a seven year old, a five year old and a three year old at the time. Because DEC did not have the power to stop this man this site began to burn because he did not compact the debris as it filled the ravine. So that winter my children suffered from bronchitis and pneumonia. And I guess that the majority of the problem was sulphur dioxide because when sheet rock breaks down it releases sulphur dioxide, and when that burns it goes into your home. So every time my furnace turned on it would pull the smell and the fumes into my home. Unfortunately, we didn't have too much recourse. We watched 40 to 50 huge tractor trailer trucks go by our house every today. We did what we could with the regulations that were in place, and with the help of state wildlife biologist Ward Stone we brought this problem to the state's attention. Unfortunately, there wasn't much we could do.
Finally, the trucks were made to stop but the damage had been done. Ponds next to the door to the site had been polluted. My kids had been made sick. And the man who owned the property, who collected the money from the hauling company from Long Island, what did he do? He moved away. He hid his money somewhere in some kind of accounts and the village of Philmont was left holding that property. So when I heard about another outsider coming in, I thought what will this group do? This group will take advantage of a small, quite place where they think they'll get no opposition, where they think that DEC will turn the other way or maybe not have the right kind of regulations in place, and after they have done what they needed to do and gather the money that they needed to make they would also leave town.
So I guess the point of my story is that for the sake of my children and my grandchildren and, in fact, to show them that we as adults in this community can stand up against these things before it's too late, I urge, Your Honor, to the best of your ability to enforce every possible regulation which DEC does have in place and to go through this impact statement with a fine-tooth comb because there's bound to be something that can protect us from some money making project that leaves us holding the bag, makes our children sick and basically destroys our belief in the jurisprudence and governmental process in our community. Thank you.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Michael Brown, Michael Scanell. William Denner. Peter Bevacqua. Linda Nedwick. Daria Ballard. Kenneth Benson. Ray Bogen. Joseph Ptaszek. Mary Mullane. David Lublans. Julie Kabat. Michelle Vitoulis. Gianni -- can't read the last name -- Ortiz, perhaps. Liz Hamann. Steve Simonek. Ruth DuFault. Peter DuFault. Terry LaBarge. Brian Herman. Carrie Haddad. Sara Griffen. Nancy Gordon.
NANCY GORDON: Judge Goldberger, my name is Nancy Gordon. I'm the president of Have Incorporated. We're in the business of sales, manufacturing and distribution of audio-video materials for business and education.
We started our business in the basement of our house in Glen Cove Mills in Columbia County in 1977. With the help of the Hudson Development Corporation we moved to Hudson in 1985. We now employ 72 people in our two buildings on Power Avenue in Hudson and hope to keep growing our business here. Nearly all our employees live in the Columbia and Greene counties. We pay competitive wages, provide initial and continuing job training and maintain a clean, safe work environment.
Our high tech duplication and post production facility is extremely sensitive to dust, seismic vibration and brown-outs. We are very concerned about the impact to our business from a major industrial plant that would emit millions of pounds of airborne pollutants. Most importantly, we are concerned about our health, the health of our employees and the community. We are very close to the proposed SLC dock. The pollutants from the materials going to and coming from the plant by conveyor and the fugitive dust from the coal, slag pet coke and other porous materials stored at the dock pose a serious threat to contaminating audio and video equipment. Noise is another issue for us. The noise of barge and ship activity. The sustained continuous noise of the conveyor and the increased truck and traffic activity would add to the negative impact to our operations.
With the potential strain on the electrical power grid and the impact of heavy blasting three times a week and the climate on the edge of the Hudson a shooting stage recording studio addition is certainly not an option for us.
As noted in its own application, the SLC project will not generate any significant permanent employment for the region or any major tax relief for local residents. We hope to offer many new opportunities for employment. Emissions of certain pollutants may be reduced but the total amount of all emissions increases. The tax relief the company suggested in SLC's advertising campaigns needs to be measured against the considerable increase in the country's road maintenance and transportation infrastructure costs and the decrease in the tax revenues due to business departures, reduced real estate activity, decline in tourism and decline in population.
We have looked at other places where these cement plants have been located and the devastation is apparent. We've also looked at the the waterfront and the south bay here in Hudson and wondered why SLC has not been a better steward of the property it designed for decades.
As a state we've made great strides over the last 50 years to salvage the Hudson River from the mistakes and pollution of the industrial revolution. With the cement and power generating plants currently proposed for the Hudson River Valley it is as if history is repeating itself. We don't want to see that happen. We want to grow our business here and see Hudson as it should be. Thank yo.
LAW JUDGE:Thank you. Kerry Sheedy. Steve Kingsley.
STEVE KINGSLEY: Thank you, Your Honor. My name is Steve Kingsley. I'm the president of Hudson River Realty. My firm has been doing business in this area of the Hudson Valley for 40 years and we sell residential and commercial property. We also appraise that property for banks and individuals and executors of estates, and in my opinion, some consider it an expert opinion, this plant, this coal-powered plant of this size would have a devastating effect on the real estate value in this area. And I don't think you have to be an expert, to be a real estate expert or an economics expert to go over to Cementon in Greene County and see the effect that that cement plant has had on that area. So I'd just like to leave you with that. Thank you.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Thank you. Marguerite DeSantis. Robert Pinkowski. Jim McKay. Henry Cassivant.
HENRY CASSIVANT: Hello. My name is Henry Cassivant. I live in Ellenville and I've been there since '79. I've been a resident there for 32 years.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: We can't hear you.
HENRY CASSIVANT: I've been a resident there for 32 years.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Can you face us.
HENRY CASSIVANT: I want to face to audience.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: No, face us.
HENRY CASSIVANT: Okay. My concern is -- well, first of all I'd like a show of hands. Is there anybody here concerned about the quality of the air? Who is concerned about the quality of the air? Raise your hand. Okay. Who's concerned about the water? All right. Are you opposed to the cement plant? Raise your hand. You people that are concerned about the air (inaudible) you smoke cigarettes. Yeah, right, I see a lot of them out there smoking. But you're not concerned about the air. I'm telling you I know what I see. But everybody here -.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Mr. Cassivant, don't speak to the audience just make your comments, please.
HENRY CASSIVANT: You have (inaudible) have property in Hudson. I enjoy going to Hudson. I enjoy walking down the sidewalk that (inaudible) nothing make any sense. I think we need an industry like this in the area. I have not been paid by anybody to speak on behalf of the cement plant. I don't know anybody that's even involved, but I'm saying we need this industry because cement is important no matter where you go. Thank you for listening to what I have to say. I can't believe all these people are so naive about the fact that it's very important.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: James Cashen. Jamie Bytheway. Lawrence Osgood. Dan Udell. Can Fiske. Jeannine Dorval. Peter Cossack. Glenford VanValkenburg. Justine LaPointe. Jean dominique. Rose Denie O'Gene. Edward Murphy. Jeff Winters, Jr. Jeane Duff. Salvador Sanchez. Glenda Ruby. Roger Downs. Bonnie Logan.
BONNIE LOGAN: Thanks for your patience. I'm always struck by people who are wise to make a correction to the record with a certain amount of personal indignation and with that in mind I'd like to return to the consultant of SLC who stood up here about an hour ago and took issue with what he claimed were erroneous figures about the size of the plume.
I think I need to enter the correction that well perhaps he knew this and maybe he didn't, but Friends of Hudson were not responsible for that data. He ought to know that that came from a ten page brief, as I understand it, that was prepared by Arthur Baker, who is an architect. And second of all Earth to St. Lawrence. I don't care if it's 850 feet or six miles, it's pollution. And the fact is the St. Lawrence consultant ought to know that that six mile plume, which was referred to is in fact worst case scenario, it's still a scenario. And we're going to have to live with it. I don't want to live with it. The fact is my husband and I have lived on two coasts -- in the northwest, the southwest, the northeast and the southeast. We've lived in five states and between us we've lived in 20 cities. We chose to come here and we chose for a reason and it's because the quality of life here is exceptional. And I implore you not to mess with that. It's a disappearing entity.
We lived in a small community, one of the communities we lived in, I feel like this is the worst deja vu of my life because we lived in a small community that experienced the kind of disruption that we're about to embark on here. And you want to talk about something that destroys the fabric of a community and upsets the balance, not just the environmental balance, not just the balance of health and certainly the relationships among community members. I am ashamed for the people that put forth this sham of a campaign. I am embarrassed personally over this slogan "Save the planet. Save the planet." I am outraged that you say that to us with a straight face. Excuse me. "Support the planet." We'll split hairs. Okay. We have quality of life that's disappearing quickly not just in this state but around the globe. And I cherish it. And I cherish my First Amendment right to free speech. I'm embarrassed that people use that same right to manipulate and deceive and exploit people and go home at night and put their heads on a pillow and can sleep with themselves. Thank you.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE: Cherilus Joseph. Senat Jean Danielle. Anite Exil. Kareem Grindor Marie Danielle Pierre. Benedith Michele. Petit Frere Joseph. Gay Archange. Thank you. I'm going to adjourn. It's 12:40 a.m. and I have no more cards. Thank you all for coming tonight. No. No. We will be reconvening tomorrow at the issues conference at ten o'clock. Thank you all very much. (Whereupon, the hearing was adjourned at 12:40 a.m.