State Will Provide Financial Assistance to Newburgh for Emergency and Permanent Repairs Commissioner Martens to Conduct Site Visit Today
Albany, NY (October 6, 2012)
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today directed multiple state agencies to respond and assist the City of Newburgh in stopping a major sewage line break that happened Friday. In addition, the state determined that the City of Newburgh qualifies for priority financial assistance for emergency and permanent repair costs to the plant through the Environmental Facilities Corporation. The agencies will begin the repairs to the sewer system as soon as possible. Under the direction of Governor Cuomo and in his role as Chair of EFC, Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens inspected the site Saturday morning.
“Many communities across the state face aging infrastructure problems with no money to make the necessary upgrades and repairs. The state is sensitive to those needs and today we are providing assistance to the City of Newburgh to build a better sewer system so there are no more releases that pose a threat to public health and the environment,” Governor Cuomo said. “Addressing aging infrastructure is critical for economic growth, jobs and protection of public health and the environment.”
“The state arrived onsite shortly after learning of the sewage break and remained onsite helping the City of Newburgh until the release was stopped,” DEC Commissioner Martens said. “Now that the spill is contained, we are working with the City of Newburgh to develop immediate and permanent repairs to the system.”
Engineering staff from New York State DEC and the State Office of Emergency Management were onsite yesterday and remain there today to monitor response operations and provide technical assistance. City of Newburgh engineering staff and contractors worked Friday to implement temporary repairs to the trunk line breach and to remove debris obstructions caused by the collapse. The release was under control at approximately 9 p.m. Friday. The structures and pumps will be monitored and pipe clean ups will continue over the weekend.
The state Department of Health worked with county Health Departments to notify and coordinate with other municipalities in the area to respond to the event. State DOH also asked drinking water treatment plants in the vicinity of Newburgh to respond by paying close attention to their raw water quality and ensuring optimal treatment of incoming water. The State Department of Health Wadsworth laboratories are standing by to analyze water samples if necessary. In addition, the State Office of Emergency Management offered to provide excavation, trucking, pumps, generators and other equipment as requested by the City of Newburgh.
Newburgh City Manager Rich Herbek said, “The City declared an emergency and appreciates Governor Cuomo directing state resources to be available to assist Newburgh with the immediate temporary repairs that redirected the sewer line flow back to the treatment plant. The offer of longer term EFC assistance is also something I applaud.”
The sewage release reached at a continuous rate of 3 to 5 million gallons per day, which was caused by a large sewer line collapse early Friday in an area adjacent to the Quassaick Creek.
The state Department of Health issued a finding that the raw sewage discharge constitutes an imminent health hazard which made the City of Newburgh eligible for financial assistance for emergency and permanent repairs.
Discharges of untreated human wastes present a risk of pathogen contamination. County Health Departments, and drinking water utilities and districts that withdraw from the Hudson River in the potentially impacted area were notified.
Persons engaging in contact recreation, such as kayaking and fishing, on the Hudson River from Poughkeepsie south over the holiday weekend are advised to carefully wash their hands before eating or engaging in hand to mouth contact. The exact location or scope of sewage contamination in the Hudson is uncertain due to complex tides and currents.