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Brine Tank Spills At LeRoy School Never Reported By New York DEC

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A toxic brine tank spill at LeRoy Junior/Senior High School was never reported by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC). According to the DEC, the action was not an oversight, but likely a matter of policy. The town of LeRoy, New York, is at the center of a mystery illness outbreak, said NewsInferno, that has left 19 people with a bizarre set of symptoms that appear similar to Tourette’s. To date, one woman, one teenage boy, and 17 teenage girls have reported symptoms. Most have ties to LeRoy, specifically, the school. In a posting on its website last week, the group Catskill Citizens revealed that on July 13, 2011, NY DEC inspectors discovered that two “brine” tanks spilled toxic fluids onto LeRoy’s school’s athletic fields. Of note, explained the Catskill Citizen, so-called “brine” is actually “produced water,” a fluid pumped from the ground with natural gas. Brine, which contains chlorides, bromides, and heavy metals, may also be radioactive. While many rightly wonder why the spill was not entered into the NYS DEC’s spills incident database—a vehicle by which the public can access spill information—DEC Citizen Participation Specialist, Linda Vera, suggested this omission is departmental policy, said the Catskill

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Citizen. When asked “Can you tell me if a leaking brine tank would, as a matter of course, be reported as a spill incident that would (should) appear on in the spills incident database?” Vera told Catskill Citizens, “No, a brine spill is not the same as a chemical or petroleum spill.” As a matter-of-fact, noted Catskill Citizens, only one incident was entered into the DEC’s spill database in 2011 in LeRoy and that concerned one quart of wastewater spilled at a service center/rest area (Spill Number 1103544). Yet, little is known about the brine spill that tainted LeRoy’s school fields, including how long the tanks leaked and how much fluid leaked there. There is also no information on the spills’ environmental impact; however, said the Catskill Citizen, CNN reported that area trees are dead despite that Vera said, “ “minor damage was observed to surrounding vegetation.” CNN’s footage of the area indicates dead vegetation around both brine tanks—the Catskill Citizen notes that Vera only ever acknowledged one tank spill—which were located near a football and near a baseball field. It also remains unclear as to why the DEC excludes information on produced water spills from its online spills databases In 1970, a train accident spilled one ton of cyanide crystals and 30,000 gallons of TCE, an industrial solvent, in LeRoy, in an area deemed a SuperFund site. That spill, which occurred just four miles from the Le Roy school, is now on the Superfund National Priorities List. This means the area is a hazardous waste site on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) list for health impact assessment. CNN described TCE as a “chemical of interest” in the case of the Le Roy students. Some have positied that the school, built in 2006, might have been built with tainted materials related to the train derailment.

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