Cement plant neighbors plan to monitor problems such as the "fugitive dust" they say rises up in a cloud bank over a section of US Route 9W and engulfs vehicles as large as tractor-trailers. That persistent situation and others will become part of a database kept by the Germantown Neighbors Association and the Friends of Hudson, which contend that state officials have allowed Glens Falls Lehigh Cement and St. Lawrence Cement to operate without fixing known environmental problems.
"There are long-standing problems with noise, dust, light pollution, and other impacts from both those facilities," said Friends of Hudson Executive Director Sam Pratt. "We are trying to develop a more rigorous system for people to report problems," he said. "Basically, we want a complete binder of any time somebody sees something, whether it’s a video or simply somebody keeping a notepad in their kitchen to log when the noise from the plant becomes excessive."
"People talk anecdotally about calling DEC (the state Department of Environmental Conservation), about calling St. Lawrence, calling Lehigh, and basically being brushed off," he said. "Until you have a pretty tall stack of documentation it can be pretty hard to get any action out of either of these companies or these agencies."
Among issues the groups would like to have addressed immediately is a resumption of air monitors, including one on the Germantown school, that can provide alerts when there are high levels of dust from the plants. "A lot of them were dismantled or just taken off line," Pratt said. "They were suppose to be maintained by DEC, but DEC at some point basically said they didn’t have the time or money to do it."
St. Lawrence Cement plant General Manager Barry Rowland said company representatives try to be responsive when complaints are lodged. "Protecting the environment and maintaining our relationship with our neighbors is one of our top priorities," he said. "We’re looking at meeting with our neighbors to discuss their concerns."