Assemblyman Joseph Borelli, Borough President James Oddo, Congressman Dan Donovan, Assembly Members Nicole Malliotakis, Michael Cusick, Matthew Titone, Councilman Steven Matteo, Councilwoman Debi Rose, and Senators Andrew Lanza, Diane Savino, have formally requested that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), and New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) look into the effect of petrochemical emissions from New Jersey on the air quality and health of Staten Islanders and the environment.
On Friday, August 28th, residents from across Staten Island called 311 and emergency services to report a foul odor that was determined by DEP to have most likely emanated from northern New Jersey’s “petrochemical corridor”. The elected officials have sent letters to the city and state regulatory agencies to request the synthesized data from existing air quality monitoring stations and to ascertain whether or not current air quality monitoring measures are sufficient to detect unsafe levels of particulate matter or if the installation of additional air quality monitoring stations is necessary to protect the health and safety of the residents of Staten Island.
Assemblyman Borelli concluded, “If there’s any cause to believe that the odor is caused by particulate matter in our air from New Jersey chemical plants, then it should be a cause for our environmental regulatory agencies to investigate. If there’s enough matter in the air to smell, what is the guarantee that there’s not enough matter in the air to be hazardous to Staten Islanders’ health?”
“Too many Staten Islanders experienced the smell to conclude anything other than there was something in the air that day. All we are asking is that the relevant city and state agencies share their air monitoring data with us and investigate to determine whether the air monitoring measures currently in place are sufficient,” said Borough PresidentOddo.
“Thank you to Assemblyman Borelli for bringing this important concern to city and state authorities. We’ve all heard plenty of jokes about smelly neighbors in New Jersey, but industrial pollution is a real concern – DEP and DEC should monitor air quality accordingly,” said Congressman Donovan.
“Given Staten Island’s history of environmental debacles, it is prudent that the city monitor any unusual or unpleasant odors that emanate through the borough to determine if they are more than just irritating smells, but pose potentially harmful health risks – and to help mitigate those risks,” said Councilman Matteo.
“I want to thank the DEP for taking the concerns of Staten Islanders seriously and while they have not identified whether the order was hazardous or not, I want to urge them to not only investigate this issue further but to make sure our neighboring chemical plants are in compliance with the environmental safety laws as well. When we reassure the residents of Staten Island that the air quality is safe, we want to be certain of this,” said Senator Diane J. Savino.
Assemblyman Titone stated, “Any potentially hazardous emissions, regardless of from where they are derived, are a cause for concern. Ensuring the health and safety of our community is a fundamental function of government, which is why we’re requesting that the appropriate regulatory agencies do their due diligence and confirm whether the event that occurred on Friday, August 28th posed any danger to Staten Islanders.”
“Air quality has been of significant concern to generations of Staten Islanders so when an unpleasant, unfamiliar odor presents itself, it is cause for concern. This is especially true because our community has raised questions about the effect that chemical plants in New Jersey may have on the health of Staten Islanders. It is our hope that the DEC and DEP can give us more insight into the suspicious odors and investigate whether the plants in New Jersey are using best practices and following environmental safety laws,” said Assemblywoman Malliotakis.
Assemblyman Cusick stated, “The incident last week highlighted the desperate need for stronger oversight and more frequent monitoring of the air quality on Staten Island and how it is affected as a result of operations at these New Jersey petrochemical plants. The entire western side of our Island is less than two-tenths of a mile from New Jersey’s chemical coast while Manhattan and the rest of New York City lies over ten miles away. Put simply, Staten Islanders will be the first to see any impacts should an incident occur at one of these plants. I urge the Department of Conservation to formulate a plan along with their counterparts in New Jersey for regular air monitoring and rapid response on Staten Island, including the establishment of air quality monitoring stations on Staten Island.”
“I certainly heard complaints from constituents about the mysterious odor. Proper review is critical so that we can address the source, find a permanent solution and ensure safe air quality for our residents,” said Councilwoman Rose.