NY, ALBANY - Power Outages Causes 465,000 Gal. Water and 6.2 Gal. Chemicals to Spill

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Title: Water plant shut after GE spill Source: Times Union Albany, NY Publication date: 2000-05-12

Waterford Temporary closure follows discharge of chemicals into river from silicones plant.

Untreated waste water containing several chemicals was discharged into the Hudson River from the GE Silicones plant early Thursday.

The town gets its drinking water from the river and immediately shut down its water treatment plant.

GE officials said that the amount of chemicals spilled was small and did not pose "a community or environmental hazard." State officials are expected to release a report today about the spill.

A 2 a.m. power outage at the plant caused 465,000 gallons of water, including a total of 6.2 gallons of toluene, methanol, ethanol, silicone oil, acetone and isoproponol, to spill into the river from GE's waste-water treatment plant, according to Patrick Brennan, a GE spokesman.

The town draws its water from the river and took no chances Thursday. Officials at the Waterford Water Works, which processes the river, shut down the system immediately and switched over to water from Troy while they tested the plant's water.

Bob Horton, general manager of Waterford Water Works, said the tests showed no sign of contaminants at the plant, and the system was back on Hudson River water by 7 p.m.

State Department of Environmental Conservation authorities investigated the spill all day Thursday. A determination of the spill's impact would be prepared today, according to Dan Farrell, a DEC spokesman.

GE Silicones uses river water during the heating, cooling and cleaning of the silicone products it produces. The water gets sucked into the plant at a pump house for use, then is deposited at the waste-water plant for treatment before being dumped back into the river.

The untreated waste water poured into the Hudson River from about 2:30 a.m. to 4:45 a.m., according to Brennan. Readings on the water were taken throughout the release.

The GE plant is located approximately 1.5 miles upstream from the town water facility. The power outage and spill will halt some manufacturing operations at GE Silicones for another 24 to 48 hours, Brennan said.

Using 1997 statistics, the federal Environmental Protection Agency cited Waterford's GE Silicones last May as the state's third-largest overall industrial polluter and its top polluter of land. But Brennan said environmental and safety investments have improved the plant.



-- (Dee360Degree@aol.com), May 15, 2000


Note: Correction on title...should be power 'outage'...not outages. Thank you.

-- (Dee360Degree@aol.com), May 15, 2000.

Dee, have you seen any sites that are doing cumulative reporting on spills and contamination? The Los Alamos debacle will throw a nice curve into the equation as the radiation levels rise: not to mention carbon and other by products as they're released into the atmosphere and deposited into the environment.

Does anyone remember that interesting little study completed by Harvard about 30 years ago on tobacco? It offered the conclusion that tobacco-as a broad leaf plant-absorbs higher levels of air borne radioactive particles which are transferred to smokers (and others through secondary exposure to tobacco smoke), resulting in increased risk for mutagenic tissue disorders. The authors also pointed out that a number of other vegetables are "broad leaf". I'd like to re- read that paper if any old-timers can come up with the reference.

-- mike in houston (mmorris67@hotmail.com), May 15, 2000.


I haven't seen anything along those lines, but if I do...I will pass on the info to you.

It's interesting what you said about the tobacco study. I would like to read that also if anyone is familiar with it.

Thanks for your input Mike.

-- (Dee360Degree@aol.com), May 15, 2000.

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