Local desalting plant to close suddenly

On Wednesday Sept. 25, the Livingston County Board of Supervisors held a meeting at which town supervisors addressed the impending shutdown of AkzoNobel Salt Desalinization Plant shutdown. Erected in 2004, the plant services nearby towns like Leicester, York, Avon and Geneseo by desalting the water contaminated from the AkzoNobel Salt Mine that collapsed and flooded in March 1994. The collapse left the town of Leicester and the entire Livingston County in fear of water contamination.

In early September, both plant workers and residents of Leicester and surrounding towns discovered that the plant was shutting down. They were given no forewarning from Attorney General Eric Schneiderman or AkzoNobel. Additionally, the town of Leicester owns the property that the AkzoNobel Desalinization Plant sits on.

“We have not heard one thing from them … We have not received any papers, nothing,” Leicester board member Lisa Semmel said. “And that is what has some of us very frustrated … We got a call last Friday saying they’re done.”

“[AkzoNobel] had all this stuff they were required to do, and they feel as if they have done that,” she said. “But [the board doesn’t feel] that way because if they stop this plant, they’re pumping out 15 gallons of contaminated water a minute. Where is it going to go? Into our aquifers.”

Board member from the town of York Jerry Deming said he feels that since AzkoNobel are the “ones that are cutting the deals, they should tell the public.”

“The longer it goes on without telling the public, the public just comes up with worse and worse scenarios,” he said. These concerns arise from the idea of contaminated water no longer being treated after the plant shuts down.

“If they were coming forth with information, I do not think we would be as antsy,” Semmel said. “But the fact that they are not coming forth and giving us any answers … Why not?”

“That’s the biggest question,” Deming said. “What is the implication? Nobody’s talking to us about it.”

Without any information from the attorney general’s office or AkzoNobel, the towns and their representatives await the unknown. The secrecy behind the operation has caused the public to speculate its overall motive.

“The concern is that we weren’t part of any talks with Akzo,” said Deming. “The board supervisors had no knowledge of anything going on.”

As for the future, Deming said that the board of supervisors is attempting to arrange a meeting between the attorney general’s office and the town representatives in order to verify information and create an understanding.

“[The attorney general’s office is] contemplating having a public meeting,” Deming said. According to Deming, however, “nothing has come back definite.”