Failure to report major sewage spills into the Hudson violated state law

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – If you’ve recently gone boating, swimming or fishing in the Hudson River you could have been exposed to unsafe levels of municipal sewage in both Albany and Troy.

The Albany Water Commissioner confirmed to NEWS10 ABC that workers failed to report large sewage spills in the Hudson River over the past two weeks.

Troy’s City Council President Carmella Mantello is now requesting a public meeting to discuss the violation of state law on sewage reports.

City officials in both Albany and Troy have apparently violated a state law, after failing to report multiple sewage spills in the past few weeks.

According to the Sewage Right to Know Law, sewer system operators are required to report spills to the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) within two hours and to the public within four hours.

“We should all know what’s going on in the waters and in the air and in nature, and we should all be in the know,” said Leah Tourt, a Rensselaer resident.

Tourt feels it is important that city officials notify their residents when there are problems with the sewage system.

“I think it’s kind of like a big part of negligence on someone’s part,” Tourt said.

Between June 23 and July 2, there were 10 spills in the city of Albany, none of them were reported to the DEC until Friday night.

During that time, four million gallons of sewage leaked into the Hudson River near the Port of Albany, mostly caused by heavy rainfall.

Albany Water Commissioner, Joe Coffey admits his department violated the law.

“We have a responsibility under the Sewage Right to Know Law to report these on time. We failed to do that,” Coffey said.

Coffey blames this on human error. He said the person who usually files the reports was off for several days. But, they’ve adjusted their reporting procedure so it doesn’t happen again, by notifying more than one worker.

“It was really human error on our part, that’s my responsibility to make sure we have systems in place that if there is a primary way that we report these that we need a backup,” said Coffey.

A spokesperson from the DEC said they “reserve the right to pursue actions against municipalities for failure to comply with incident reporting requirements.”

The maximum penalty for violating the state law is just over $37,000 per day.

The city of Troy has not returned phone calls at this time.

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