State orders Lehigh Northeast brass to pay US$50, 000 for leak into river.
The state fined the owners of a Catskill cement plant US$50,000 for allowing toxic chemicals to escape from its landfill into the Hudson River, according to the Department of Environmental Conservation.
The fine against Lehigh Northeast Cement Co, issued last week, stemmed from a planned lawsuit by Riverkeeper, an environmental group that discovered the problem this summer during a helicopter patrol over the river.
The landfill, which holds toxic cement kiln dust taken from the Route 9W cement plant, was leaking a bright orange fluid that had the alkalinity of household bleach into a nearby wetland. The wetland, where the tainted sediment was up to a foot thick, drains into the river.
Cement kiln dust, a byproduct of the cement manufacturing process, is known to contain metals such as antimony, arsenic, barium, lead, chromium and mercury; it also highly alkaline.
In assessing the fine, DEC agreed to suspend US$10,000 of the sum if Lehigh submits a repair plan for the leaky landfill by Dec. 31, gets state approval for the plan and performs the repairs. Also, the company agreed to study potential environmental damage to the wetland.
"The DEC should be commended for acting quickly and decisively to halt these illegal discharges and order remediation of these sensitive wetlands," said Riverkeeper staff attorney Josh Verleun.