ALBANY, NY — Save the Pine Bush and the Alliance for
Environmental Renewal filed suit February 2 in the United States
District court for the Northern District of New York against
Pyramid Crossgates over its violation of its waste water permit
for the past three years. Pyramid Crossgates has a State Pollution
Discharge Elimination System (“SPDES”) Permit 0107930
to discharge sodium chloride into the Krum Kill. During the
winter months for the past three years, Crossgates has exceeded
its permit limits.
Save the Pine Bush (SPB) and the Alliance for Environmental
Renewal (AER) filed intent to sue 60 days ago.
SPB and AER are asking the court to stop Pyramid Crossgates
from discharging pollution into the Krum Kill in violation
of its SPDES permit; to allow SPB and AER to test any discharge
from the facility; to order Pyramid Crossgates to pay civil
penalties of $25,000 per day, per violation or $750,000 per
month of violations; and other remedies.
By pursuing this litigation, SPB and AER send a message to
Crossgates that water pollution is not acceptable and such
serious violations will not be tolerated.
Hotel Proposal by Pyramid Crossgates
In a related development, Pyramid Crossgates is seeking permission
to construct a hotel on approximately 4 acres of land contiguous
to the Karner Blue Butterfly hill. In 1998, Pyramid Crossgates
illegally bulldozed this parcel and spread gravel on it for
a parking lot.
More than a dozen Save the Pine Bush members and supporters
attended the February 2 Common Council meeting. Several gave
impassioned speeches about the importance of preserving the
Pine Bush. The youngest speaker, Anne Sombor, age 12 and a
student at the Albany Academy of Girls, received an ovation
from the public.
SPB asked the Common Council for three things: first, to
post-pone consideration of this project until Crossgates comes
with its SPDES permits. Crossgates has had years to fix the
water pollution problem; before they are allowed to make any
more money from the Pine Bush, they must comply with the law.
Second, SPB asked the Common Council require Crossgates to
put the site back to its original condition before they illegally
bull-dozed it. The Common Council cannot let developers bulldoze
rare ecosystems, and then ask that they be allowed to develop
the land. This is an extremely bad precedent.
Third, SPB asked the Common Council to call for a scoping
session before the Environmental Impact Statement is written
the environmental impacts of this proposal. This proposal will
have major impacts on the Karner Blue and the Pine Bush. The
Council needs to evaluate all of the impacts. A scoping session
would allow the public to enumerate all of the environmental
impacts that need to be addressed by the Environmental Impact
Statement. Without a scoping session, important environmental
impacts may be missed, and the public would not have an opportunity
to comment on those issues until after the Environmental Impact
Statement is written.
Background on SPDES Violations
The exceedences of salt are due to the salting of the parking
lots surrounding Crossgates during the winter months. Because
Crossgates decided to build the maul catering only to car traffic,
it has large parking lots to maintain. Had Crossgates advocated
for better mass transit to its site, and made good accommodations
for bicycle and pedestrian access, they would not need to pollute
the Krum Kill with salt.
The construction of the proposed hotel with its paved parking
lots and snow clearance, will inevitably cause an even greater
discharge of sodium chloride.