Paterson veto spares Radiac

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A dumping ground for radioactive waste will remain in Williamsburg — thanks to a veto from Gov. Paterson.

The lame-duck leader trashed a bill that would have required Radiac, a private radioactive waste removal company, to relocate from a Kent Avenue location because it was within 1,500 feet of a school.

The bill had been sponsored by Assemblyman Joe Lentol (D–Greenpoint), but the governor said that the cure was worse than the disease in that a 1,500-foot rule could block many city hospitals and schools from disposing of their medical waste safely and efficiently.

Lentol disagreed.

“It is our job to protect against the worse-case scenario,” he said. “No one is trying to shut them down or hurt hospitals that rely on their services, we are simply asking them to move to where it is safe for everyone.”

The company’s hazardous waste facility, located beween S. First and Grand streets since 1969, processes medical and radioactive waste from research hospitals, including Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, the city’s public schools’ science laboratories, and even hazardous sites dumped on street corners following 311 complaints.

But the company has been in the crosshairs of parents of students at PS 84 on Berry Street, one block from the waste-processing site, and neighborhood activists. There have been no toxic leaks from the site, but the Department of Justice has called Radiac a terror target, and the state has cited the facility for three minor violations since 2000.

In the end, Paterson’s decision won out, drawing praise from Radiac’s attorney who called Lentol’s bill “poorly drafted and poorly crafted.”

“It was an effort to put a single company out of business that has a 40-year track record of no environmental incidents with outstanding service to schools, hospitals and agencies throughout the New York metropolitan area,” said the lawyer, Thomas West.

Updated 2:55 pm, October 19, 2011
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