DEC, town at odds over reservoir pollution

Madison County's Lebanon Town Supervisor James Goldstein said this week he believes soil contaminated during a fire at the Crouch well drilling rig March 19 may be flowing toward Lebanon Reservoir.

Goldstein briefed members of the Madison County Public Utilities Services Committee and an ad hoc energy committee on the situation at the groups' joint meeting Monday May 18.

"We had a breach of the area where the March 19 Crouch well fire was," Goldstein said. "As you are probably aware, we had significant rainfall this weekend, and the hill just sort of sloughed off where the containment field was put in place by the DEC [state Department of Environmental Conservation]."

But Diane Carlton of the DEC's media relations department said there is no containment area on the site. She said the soil contaminated during the March fire is sealed in containers and awaiting removal to a permitted facility.

"That was all cleaned up after the fire," Carlton said.

Goldstein said he received a call Saturday night from a Lakeshore Drive resident who reported massive brown runoff into the reservoir from the Crouch gas well site.

"He had obtained water samples and visited the site and said the entire side of the slope was washing away, bringing with it massive amounts of silt and other materials into the creek that feeds the reservoir," Goldstein said. "There was a lot of brown sediment and silt coming down the hill. Normally, the water in the affected area is almost always clear. Now it is filthy brown silty."

Goldstein said he immediately contacted the DEC's spill unit, Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Joseph DeFrancisco and the town's highway superintendent. He said after much aggravation, the DEC sent someone to the site.

"They showed up out there at 11 p.m. with a flashlight and never took any water samples," Goldstein said. "Now they've reversed themselves and I've heard they plan to do core testing."

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