Study warns of mercury near Lafarge site

Study warns of mercury near Lafarge site
Published: 01 October 2009

Elevated levels of toxic mercury and other heavy metals are in neighborhoods around the Lafarge cement plant on Route 9W, according results from a volunteer project performed by a well-known state scientist.
Tests taken during the last six months around the village of Ravena and the town of Coeymans revealed levels of mercury up to eight times what is normal elsewhere, said Ward Stone, a wildlife pathologist with the state Department of Environmental Conservation. The research was not done as part of his regular DEC duties: He embarked on the work at the request of a local citizens’ group.

The amount of mercury "is variable and elevated in many locations, particularly in the old Ravena area," said Stone, who announced his findings at a news conference Tuesday in Coeymans. "I can’t say how much is from the cement plant, but it is out there and it is definitely going into the environment."

Stone said normal background levels of mercury in soil at the Five Rivers Environmental Center in Delmar -- well away from the cement plant -- tended toward 50 parts per billion or less. But he said he found one soil hot spot in Ravena with mercury readings topping 400 ppb, and many other locations with levels of 200 ppb or more.