Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
New York State Governor
Albany, NY 12224
Dear Governor Cuomo:
My name is __ and I live at __ . I am contacting you because ____.
I write respectfully to request that you immediately require all of the toxic site concerns associated with the former Sperry Remington manufacturing/Elmira High School site in Elmira, NY to be consolidated into a single site that is given a Class 1 Inactive Hazardous Waste Disposal Site designation: "Causing or presenting an imminent danger of causing irreversible or irreparable damage to the public health or the environment -- immediate action required."
This action is warranted because it has been more than 20 years since high-level toxic pollution was discovered to have migrated nearly 1,000 feet from the former Sperry Remington factory site to Miller Pond in Elmira, NY. Yet, the full scope of that contaminated property's public health and environmental hazards has neither been fully investigated and delineated nor cleaned up in strict compliance with all applicable regulatory requirements.
The delay in achieving comprehensive clean up in strict compliance with all applicable regulatory requirements is unacceptable given that Elmira High School at 777 South Main Street is built directly on the contaminated site and a responsible party is required to clean it up. In addition, a residential neighborhood adjoining the former factory site has yet to be investigated for toxic pollution threats.
As you will see from the excerpted information provided below for your review, it is inconceivable that polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) which constitute hazardous waste and other contaminants which exceed clean up requirements have been identified under the Elmira High School's football field, but have yet to be removed.
A wide variety of PCBs, toxic metals and potential cancer-causing agents also have been identified above clean up requirements under widespread areas of the school grounds and in contaminated groundwater. Those wastes also have yet to be removed.
See: Government Data Documenting Environmental Health Concerns at Elmira High School
For all these reasons, we request that urgent action be immediately undertaken to make sure that members of the school community as well as the public at-large cannot come into contact with any documented toxic pollution at the site involving contaminated dirt, indoor or outdoor air pollution, tainted groundwater, surface water or any other medium.
If the responsible party does not agree to remove all toxic pollution that exceeds regulatory requirements without further delay, New York should do so with the assistance of the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency and seek clean up reimbursement from the responsible party or its insurers.
All sources of toxic pollution must be removed to the fullest degree possible so that the school, nearby residential homes and the surrounding environment can be fully protected from contamination hazards. It is equally imperative that any residual pollution which cannot be removed due to structural constraints must not recontaminate areas that are cleaned up.
With due respect, these common-sense safeguards obviously should have been undertaken decades ago. Unfortunately, New York's on-going failure to clean up this site on a comprehensive basis is replicated at hundreds of legacy toxic sites that are known to have polluted the environment for decades.
This grim scenario underscores the need for dramatic changes to the state's inadequate toxic clean up program. That is why we request that:
First, any toxic site which is deemed to pose public health or environmental hazards due to regulatory exceedances must be cleaned up by responsible parties according to all applicable regulatory requirements within five years. If responsible parties cannot fulfill that obligation, the site must be designated a Class 1 site: Causing or presenting an imminent danger of causing irreversible or irreparable damage to the public health or the environment -- immediate action required. Urgent action must be undertaken by state and federal environmental authorities to resolve those concerns.
Second, New York State must have sufficient toxic site and spill remediation funds to clean up "orphan sites" in a timely fashion when responsible parties do not fulfill their "polluter pays" obligations. New York must increase its pollution clean up funds through dedicated fees.
In conclusion, toxic clean up delays stretching over literally decades must no longer be tolerated in New York. "Environmental justice delayed is environmental justice denied." Toxic polluters must not be allowed to evade their clean up responsibilities at the former Sperry Remington site or similar legacy toxic sites all over New York. State environmental authorities must strictly enforce New York's toxic clean up regulatory requirements or the legal protections are meaningless.
We trust that you will find our request to be self-explanatory, but please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or suggestions.
Thank you for your consideration.
cc: Honorable Basil Seggos
Honorable Howard Zucker, M.D.