Legislators, including myself and Legislator Alex Shannon and Judith Breselor, and residents and local officials were disappointed that state and federal agencies have decided not to conduct a health survey of residents living in the area around the Loeffel toxic waste site in Nassau. The survey was sought to help identify and address any increased instances of cancer and related illnesses, particularly ones attributable to toxic contamination.
The health survey was supported by residents and local elected officials, and would have been an effective way to study and address long-standing concerns about cancer rates in the area. The Loeffel site includes more toxic waste than the infamous Love Canal toxic site and the anecdotal information from residents about cancer occurrences in family and friends is considerable and should not be overlooked. We were aware of many comments and personal stories from residents near the Loeffel site on Facebook and other social media sites following the decision by the state and the federal government not to conduct the health survey.
The problem of toxic contamination has plagued Nassau for 50 years and progress in addressing the issue has been slow and often frustrating. In just the past two weeks, federal officials toured the site and announced a plant to treat water from the site will be completed by early next year and be accompanied by a study of future fixes for the now-capped landfill. The treatment plant will help reduce truck traffic from the site and follows the improvement of a dam on Nassau Lake.
Unfortunately, that progress took decades to accomplish, and sadly, will not be accompanied by a survey that comprehensively tracks the health effects of five decades of toxic contamination in this rural area. As legislators, we will continue to press for clean-up of the contamination and in the days to come, renew calls for a health survey of residents in the area.