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And the Winners Are...

In viewing the recent television commercials that support St. Lawrence Cement’s proposal to close its existing site in Catskill and construct a $300 million plant expansion across the river in Greenport, one is left with the impression that SLC is a company that cares about the environment and the health of those living in the area. But an award recently granted to the cement giant paints a far different picture than the one seen on TV.

Last Thursday, Citizens’ Environment Coalition held its Dirty Dozen Award ceremony in Albany. The recipients of the award—which consisted of a dozen frozen rotten eggs—were chosen based on the damage they have caused to New York’s air, land and water, as well as health risks they posed to New York state residents in the past year. A selection committee composed of environmental professionals, public-health experts and health-and-safety advocates, evaluated each nomination from across the state and granted the top 12 polluters the award.

“While many polluters pose a threat to New York state,” said Bobbi Chase, associate director of CEC, “this year’s winners are particularly notorious for the dangers they pose to the environment and their neighbors.”

Among those to make the list were the New York State Department of Health, for not sharing cancer incidence and mortality data with residents; the Environmental Protection Agency, for failing to come up with an adequate cleanup plan for the neighborhood around the World Trade Center site (60 percent of the staff of nearby Stuyvesant High School, for example, suffered respiratory problems eight months after Sept. 11); and SLC, for operating its Catskill plant with outdated pollution-control technology (the factory’s old equipment is grandfathered under the Clean Air Act).

SLC was nominated for the award by Friends of Hudson, a 3,300 member Hudson-based citizens group that opposes the plant.

“After 30 years of being grandfathered from the Clean Air Act at its polluting Catskill plant,” said Sam Pratt, executive director of Friends of Hudson, “St. Lawrence Cement is long overdue in cleaning up its Greene County Operations.”

“[Friends of Hudson] nominated us for the award,” said Daniel Odescalchi, spokesman for SLC, in a written statement, “so it is no surprise at all to us that the facts were left out of their message. Today St. Lawrence operates a facility in Catskill that is well within all health and safety standards set forth by state and federal regulators. Our new replacement plant will be a great improvement to an existing operation that is already in compliance.”

Other “winners” of the award include the Cheektowaga Town Board, Chemical Waste Management, Onondaga County Executive Nicholas Pirro and Gov. George E. Pataki, Diaz Chemical Corporation, Environmental Protection Agency Regional 2 and New York City Department of Education, New York Organic Fertilizer Company, Newtown Creek, and NYG Energy, Inc.

—Nancy Guerin

Joe Putrock

You Profit, We Suffer

A group of activists convened outside the Business Council of New York State’s Albany headquarters last Thursday (April 3) to celebrate Big Business Day. The event organized by Citizens Work, a group started last year by Ralph Nader, was part of a nationwide action to “stop the corporate war on democracy” and to protest the war in Iraq. Protesters said that certain corporate giants like the Bechtel Group, Fluor Corporation, Parsons Group and defense contractors Carlyle Group and Global Crossing stand to make millions off the war, while massive cuts in social spending for health care, education and welfare will hurt millions of Americans.


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