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DEC says discussion about pollution on Watertown's north side to continue

Joanna Richards

At a packed public meeting November 7 in Watertown, state environmental and health officials began a dialogue with members of the public concerned about pollution on the city's north side, with the New York Air Brake plant at the center of concern. Now, Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) officials talk about what they'll do with the new information from the meeting, and what might come next.


The DEC says it took in two important new pieces of information at the meeting with current and former north side residents.

One person at the meeting said a neighbor who worked at New York Air Brake once brought home a drum full of trichloroethylene, or TCE, a solvent used to clean machinery.

And residents wanted to know whether food from a community garden that functioned in the late 1980s and early 1990s could have been contaminated.

Peter Ouderkirk manages the New York Air Brake case for the DEC, which has been asking for more information from those who raised concerns at the meeting. 

"No one, unfortunately, has gotten back to us," Ouderkirk said. "We have been preparing a responsiveness summary, which is a discussion of the questions and answers that were given out at the public meeting."

That document should be available at the public library in Watertown in about a week, he said.

The DEC plans to study fish and sediment in two neighborhood creeks in the spring.