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Health Department sets Oct. 22 meeting on NY Air Brake pollution

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Residents of the city’s north side soon should learn more about a state Department of Health study on the health effects of the chemicals dumped for decades at the former New York Air Brake site.

State Health Department officials have invited residents to a public meeting from 7 to 9:30 p.m. Oct. 22 at the North Elementary School auditorium, 171 E. Hoard St.

Last year, the Vititoe Law Group — the firm made famous by environmental activist Erin Brockovich — agreed to represent residents who believe they have suffered health problems because of toxic chemicals dumped at the Starbuck Avenue site.

On Wednesday, the Health Department released a meeting notice about the study, but did not explain what residents would learn about its plans to conduct the study.

East Division Street resident James P. Barker, one of the residents who initiated the potential legal action, said he received an email Tuesday inviting him to the meeting.

He wondered whether the department was going to publicize the meeting, since that was the only contact he had received.

“I don’t know who it was sent out to or to how many,” he said.

Health Department officials told residents in November they were considering a study after Carol J. Molinari, an Ogdensburg mother whose 17- and 13-year-old sons, Vincent J. and Dominic J., suffered from a rare skull deformity at birth, made a formal request that one be done.

On Wednesday, Mrs. Molinari said she has been invited to the meeting, but knew nothing more about it. She had not heard anything from the department since meeting with it last year until she received an email from a department official last week.

The department “has agreed to conduct a Health Outcomes Review related to NY Air Brake. This meeting is being held to gather community input on possible study boundaries, health outcomes to be evaluated, and time frame of the study,” the invitation sent to residents said.

The meeting will include a presentation and a chance for residents to ask questions. The department did not release any more information about the meeting.

Last year, the department told Mrs. Molinari a committee would determine whether the study was warranted.

North side residents and people who no longer live in the neighborhood have expressed concerns about levels of trichloroethylene, or TCE, found in the neighborhood over the years. TCE is a carcinogen and can cause nerve disorders. Many said they believe that contaminants were dumped in Kelsey and Oily creeks near the site.

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