Department of Environmental Conservation

Ithaca restricts access to Ithaca Falls amid lead concerns

Jun 24, 2015
Samuel Whitehead / WSKG News

 

Ithaca Falls is a popular spot. People come to see the falls, wade in, and fish. It’s there that Fall Creek takes its final plunge before flowing into Cayuga Lake.

But a recent discovery has cut off access to this beloved space. Last week the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found something concerning: lead.

Nels Bohn, director of the city of Ithaca’s Urban Renewal Agency, said that early testing is preliminary. He also said that some composite samples “have measurements above 400 parts per million of lead” within 25 feet of the gorge wall.

Matt Richmond / WSKG News

Regulators in New York are moving ahead with a plan to prohibit hydrofracking within its borders. In the latest step, the state released its final environmental review last week. And New York’s unique stance on fracking could have wide-ranging effects.

New York state releases final fracking report

May 13, 2015
Bosc d'Anjou / Flickr

New York state regulators have released the long-awaited final version of its environmental impact review of high-volume hydraulic fracturing. And it’s expected to lead to an official state ban on fracking.

Ithaca gun factory site in decontamination mode

Apr 9, 2015
SAMUEL WHITEHEAD / WSKG

From 1885 to 1986, the Ithaca Gun Company produced shotguns in a hillside factory northeast of downtown Ithaca. The factory’s smokestack still overlooks the city and Ithaca Falls. 

In the years since, the site has been the focus of extensive environmental remediation. Now, stakeholders are approaching the beginning of the end of the cleanup.

Matt Richmond / WSKG News

New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation has been working with IBM to clean up a chemical spill in the Southern Tier town of Endicott for years now. At a public meeting recently, officials from the DEC gave an update on one of the contaminated areas identified for cleanup.

According to New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation, the cleanup of the so-called toxic plume in Endicott is proving successful.

Kate O'Connell / WXXI

Crude oil from the Midwest is moving by pipeline and rail across the U.S., including parts of the North Country.  Some companies are interested in shipping oil to East Coast refineries by way of the St. Lawrence River.

At a conference organized last weekend by the Thousand Islands-based group, Save the River, environmentalists and state officials voiced concern over the potential of a catastrophic oil spill.

Julia Botero / WRVO

There is a deer in the village of Pulaski, N.Y., that will not run away if you come close. Residents have named the deer Bella. She naps on front porches, eats from people's hands and stands still while children pet her. Bella even has a Facebook page. WRVO's Julia Botero tried to friend Bella, but the deer had too many friends on the site, over 5,000. So, on a warm day last week Julia drove to Pulaski hoping to meet Bella face to snout. 

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David Chanatry/New York State Reporting Project

A thiamine deficiency might be to blame for a recent die-off of steelhead trout in the Salmon River.

The Department of Environmental Conservation says it began receiving reports about steelhead trout swimming erratically and dying in the Salmon River and other rivers off Lake Ontario last month. Three fish were sent to Cornell's Aquatic Animal Health Lab, where research scientist Rod Getchell examined the fish for diseases.

Jenna Flanagan/Innovation Trail

Winery owners have been stepping up their pressure on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to reject a proposal to store natural gas liquids in the salt caverns along scenic Seneca Lake.

A small but passionate group of career vineyard farmers and winery owners had one united message to deliver to Albany recently.

“We demand that Gov. Cuomo do the right thing and deny all these permits for gas storage on the west side of Seneca Lake,” says Doug Hazlet, a Seneca Lake vineyard owner.

Dispute over Seneca Lake gas storage proposal rages on

Jul 25, 2014
David Chanatry / NYRP

The debate over proposals to store natural gas, propane and butane in salt caverns under Seneca Lake has become increasingly vocal, especially after a federal agency approved part of the project last May.  Last week opponents organized the biggest rally yet in the Finger Lakes village of Watkins Glen.

As the members of the Schuyler County Legislature left their meeting last week, the emotion, passion and anger of opponents of the gas storage projects -- and fracking in general -- burst into full display.

“Shame! Shame! Shame! Shame!” the protestors chanted.

Giant Hogweed poses threat to both plants and people

Jul 4, 2014
Gino Geruntino / WRVO

New York has a big problem with an invasive species you may have never heard of. Giant hogweed is a poisonous plant that can overtake entire fields with its giant leaves and can cause painful blisters on a person's skin. But the state Department of Environmental Conservation says it's stepping up its digging and spraying program to help control the plant and even eradicate it in some spots.

Bosc d'Anjou / Flickr

Researchers and medical professionals from around the state gathered in Albany to urge acting Department of Health Commissioner Howard Zucker to impose a three- to five-year moratorium on hydraulic fracturing in New York state.

Yuri Gorby, a researcher at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, says the medical community is only just beginning to understand the health impact of hydrofracking, and the moratorium would give New York a chance to make a fully informed decision.

Wikipedia Commons

Ulster County residents living along the lower Esopus Creek which drains the south-central Catskills have been noticing a steady decrease in water clarity. It’s because of dirty liquid being released from the upstream Ashokan Reservoir, courtesy of a New York City authority.

The Department of Environmental Conversation held a public comment session recently on the turbidity of Ashokan water.

Karen DeWitt/WRVO News

National environmental groups are trying to focus the spotlight on Gov. Andrew Cuomo, over the issue of the growing international oil distribution center, located just blocks from the state Capitol, at the Port of Albany.   

A small band of demonstrators chanted and held signs Tuesday to protest a confluence of events that has turned upstate New York into a major center for oil distribution.

wxxi file photo

The Eastman Business Park (EBP) in Rochester is officially up for sale, Kodak announced Tuesday.

Company spokesman Chris Veronda says it’s the right time to hand development of the industrial and technology park over to a new entity.

"Kodak believes the site can best continue its transformation under the ownership of a firm that’s focused on its redevelopment. And, at the same time, the sale of EBP will allow Kodak to focus on its customers in the commercial imaging business."

David Chanatry/New York State Reporting Project

Lake Ontario is boasting some of the best sport fishing among the Great Lakes, thanks to a successful stocking program by New York state's environmental management agency.

The Department of Environmental Conservation pumps ample supplies of trout and salmon into Lake Ontario and its tributaries every year. It attracts anglers from all over -- more than 2.5 million each season.

GDACC

Environmental groups won a court injunction last year against the village of Painted Post, preventing them from continuing water shipments for fracking operations in Pennsylvania.

The case was brought before the State Supreme Appellate Division Court in Rochester recently, with officials from the town in Steuben County vying for a different outcome.

The village of Painted Post has a five-year contract with Shell Oil subsidiary SWEPI LP. The deal calls for up to a million gallons of water a day to be shipped by rail to supply gas fracking operations in Pennsylvania.

The Joint Landowners Coalition of New York is demanding the release of the state’s environmental impact study on hydraulic fracturing, and are threatening to take legal action if the state doesn’t release the report.

The letter stated the Department of Environmental Conservation has until Feb. 13 to release the report, known as the SGEIS. The state has had a de facto moratorium on hydrofacking for almost six years now.

Dan Fitzsimmons is president of the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York and says landowners have been waiting too long for the report.

Karen Dewitt / WXXI

One day after President Barack Obama touted hydrofracking of natural gas as a bridge fuel, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s environmental commissioner says it’s extremely unlikely that permits for drilling wells will be issued in the next year.

Cuomo’s Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens testified at a legislative budget hearing. The state has had a de facto moratorium on hydrofracking for nearly six years.

Louisiana Sea Grant College Program Louisiana State University / Flickr

For years, the state Department of Environmental Conservation and other agencies have been trying to reduce the impact of invasive species like the Emerald Ash Borer and Asian carp. Last year, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law the Invasive Species Prevention Act, requiring the DEC and state Department of Agriculture and Markets to come up with a plan to reduce the impact non-native plants and animals have on the state.

The agencies are now proposing regulations that prohibit knowingly selling, traveling with or introducing certain species into the state.

WBFO

A landowners group says it intends to file a lawsuit before the end of the year against what it says are the Cuomo administration’s unreasonable delays on hydrofracking.

Johannes Gilger / Flickr

On Tuesday when you go to vote, you’ll find two issues on your ballot that deal with New York’s Adirondack Park.

Both involve small land swaps that have been in the works for years. But because they impact the park’s forest preserve, which is protected by the state constitution, they require a vote of the people to move forward. Although one of the land swaps enjoys wide support, the other has sparked controversy and a fierce debate among environmentalists.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Anti-fracking activists are also fighting New York’s efforts to lift a ban on small natural gas storage and fueling facilities. A public information session on the matter held in Syracuse on Wednesday became about the larger natural gas industry.

New York is the only state to ban small-scale natural gas storage. That came after a 1970s facility accident in New York City. Now, under efforts from the state Department of Environmental Conservation, new fueling stations for trucks could be built as early as next year.

An environmental group says budget cuts at the state’s environmental agency has meant up to 75 percent fewer inspections of polluters like power plants and hazardous waste sites.

David Gahl, with Environmental Advocates, says years of budget cuts at the state Department of Environmental Conservation, known as the DEC, has led to a one-third reduction of staff, and an even greater decrease in the number of inspections of potential polluters.

“DEC is looking less and finding less,” Gahl said.

The leaders of the environmental committee in the New York state legislature have proposed a $5 billion environmental bond act, to be voted on in November 2014. But at an Assembly hearing on the state’s environmental budget, advocates say a bigger concern is dwindling staff at the Department of Environmental Conservation.

Assembly Environmental Committee Chair Robert Sweeney is sponsoring a bill to create a $5 billion environmental bond act to promote clean water, clean air and to preserve public land.

Kabsik Park/flickr

A coalition of New York state environmental groups filed a lawsuit against the state’s environmental regulators in July. The groups claim that the Department of Environmental Conservation violated environmental law when it loosened the regulation of dairy farms. The result is that the state’s very public support of the yogurt industry may have hit a roadblock.

During a highly publicized Yogurt Summit last year in Albany, Gov. Andrew Cuomo praised the spirit behind the industry in New York.

“When you see an opportunity, grab it and get it done,” Cuomo said.

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Gas and Oil producer Lenape Resources has filed a note of appeal as part of an attempt to overturn a court decision made in March that allowed the town of Avon to maintain its moratorium on fracking. This is the third case of this kind in upstate New York.

Opponents of hydrofracking are charging there’s a potential conflict of interest with a consultant to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s environmental agency. They are asking that the years-long review of fracking in New York state be restarted. The controversy caused the consultant in question to sever all ties with a gas industry lobby group.

A number of protestors were arrested for blockading the entrance to a natural gas storage facility in the Finger Lakes region early Monday.

Sidsel Overgaard/WRVO

Opponents of a proposed underground gas storage facility near Seneca Lake are ramping up for a legal fight as a decision on the project nears.

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