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No help from state with contaminated water

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As a veteran, citizen and business owner in New York, I have been betrayed by my government. While serving at Fort Drum, I was deployed after 9/11 to Afghanistan and was awarded the Bronze Star for my service in combat.

When I returned home, I found the New York Department of Transportation polluting my family’s water supply with sodium chloride from its faulty road salt storage practices at a nearby DOT facility on NYS Route 12. This dangerous health and economic threat is hurting my family and community. My family and other citizens in the town of Orleans bathe and consume the DOT contaminated water on a daily basis.

After discovering the contamination in 2002, I immediately informed my elected officials and the NYDOT of the contamination. Since then, we have cooperated extensively with our New York government officials and local politicians in good faith. The NYDOT drilled numerous water wells on our farm but eventually determined that our entire parcel was contaminated.

I have informed Sen. Patty Ritchie, Assemblywoman Addie Russell, former Sen. Darryl Aubertine, Jefferson County Legislator Phil Reed, former Orleans Town Supervisor Donna Chatterton and Orleans Town Supervisor Kevin Rarrick. Unbelievably, not one of these politicians has been able to help us.

Don’t politicians have a responsibility to protect their citizens’ health and welfare? Especially when it was New York’s own faulty practices that caused the problem?

The contamination plume from the NYDOT facility is polluting 45 residences and 12 businesses. Orleans officials have confirmed the contamination.

Yet no government action has been made to protect its citizens or its businesses from the salt pollution. Every day, more than 150 people in Orleans drink and bathe in contaminated water. Even the water at the I-81 New York Welcome Center is polluted!

It is apparent that New York’s politicians at the state, county and town levels have their priorities wrong. As a business owner and veteran, it leaves me wonder why New York isn’t protecting its citizens.

Therefore, I will again volunteer my services. This time I will not be wearing a military uniform, but I will provide some basic civic leadership that is obviously void by our elected officials.

I vow to help my fellow citizens find a way to once again drink and bathe in clean water. After all, I thought I left the Third World behind me. I was apparently wrong.

Stephen Conaway

Alexandria Bay

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