DEC Response Too Little, Too Late

January 19, 2007

Despite repeated requests from Assemblymember Kevin Cahill (D-Ulster, Dutchess) to stop the blasting by Callanan Industries at their East Kingston facility, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has refused to consider the suspension of the operating permits they have issued pending an investigation of the damage reported by homeowners whose properties are in the vicinity of blasting activity.

After the DEC failed to act upon complaints of residents and, in fact, renewed permits, Assemblymember Cahill sent a letter to then Commissioner Denise Sheehan dated December 15, 2006, requesting immediate suspension of applicable permits, noting the urgency of the situation. Despite follow up telephone calls to the Commissioner’s Albany office, no response was forthcoming.

Finally, on December 29, 2006, a letter from the DEC arrived stating “…to date, blasting undertaken by Callanan Industries at this site has been within the thresholds set forth by the United States Bureau of Mines, and as conditioned in the permit. The levels established by the U.S. Bureau of Mines are to ensure that blasting does not impact residential structures. Any claims of damage which the residents believe are the result of quarry operations should be made directly to Callanan Industries. The Department is also interested in these complaints and will consider modifications to the permit should any such claims be linked to quarry operations.”

Citing this unsatisfactory response, Mr. Cahill again wrote to the DEC on January 2, 2007 reiterating his request for immediate action. Yesterday, on her last day as head of the DEC, I received a letter from Commissioner Sheehan. Other than to repeat that an investigation is under way, the Department offered no relief for suffering residents and a beleaguered community.

“The level of unresponsiveness demonstrated by the DEC in this instance is appalling,” Mr. Cahill stated. “I am hoping that the new administration takes a proactive approach in reviewing this matter as soon as possible. This community and its residents need help. I will continue to pursue this relentlessly until the cause of damage to the homes and properties in East Kingston has been determined,” he concluded.