The Putnam Examiner

Polystyrene Ban Tabled by County Legislature

We are part of The Trust Project

The Putnam County Legislature postponed a vote last week that would have banned polystyrene throughout most of the county.

Legislator Barbara Scuccimarra, who sponsored the proposed legislation, said at last Tuesday’s meeting that board members had issued some concerns with the law and wanted to send it back to committee for discussion. The legislation would outlaw many food service businesses in the county from using polystyrene products, also known as Styrofoam, including trays and cups.

The proposed ban would impact several food chain restaurants, including McDonalds, Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, Burger King, Applebee’s, Dominoes and KFC. Scuccimarra previously warned the health risks outweighed any inconvenience for those establishments, adding that polystyrene doesn’t break down, but breaks up with the remains lasting for decades.

“Unfortunately we have some unanswered questions that some of the legislators are concerned with,” Scuccimarra, who attended her last full legislative meeting last week, said.

The proposed law would result in a written warning for a first offense, and if there were another violation, it would result in a fine not to exceed $250. If there continued to be repeated offenses, it would translate into a fine that cannot exceed $1,000. The health department would enforce any new regulation. Businesses that have a gross income of less than $500,000 would be allowed to file for a waiver to avoid the new law for at least one year.

In a separate measure, the board’s nine members issued a letter to the New York State Department of Public Service (DPS) last week reiterating their complaint about the poor performance by New York State Electric and Gas (NYSEG) in responding and preparing for severe winter storms and other outages earlier this year.

“There has been no change in NYSEG’s operation,” the letter stated. “NYSEG publicly admitted that it could have done a better job in its handling of the disruption of services, as well as its customer communications during and after the storms.”

Last May, the legislature approved a resolution, which supported an investigation of NYSEG’s response to the following back-to-back nor’easters in March that left thousands of residents without power for days. As of the Dec. 5, the legislature has not received a response regarding the investigation.

“We believe that at this point we would not be properly serving our constituents if we did not bring this disturbing subpar service and lack of accountability by NYSEG to your attention again,” the correspondence read.

Legislators added that they met with NYSEG representatives in September to discuss the issues the county experienced during both storms. While hopeful they would see positive change, the legislature said they have yet to receive communication from the utility, the letter stated.

The board is requesting they be provided with the status, and any results, of the investigations DPS has conducted into NYSEG. They are also pressing for information on service improvements and customer relations by NYSEG.

“There was a genuine belief on our part, as well as many of our residents, that NYSEG would implement critical changes in its operations, placing a focus on revamping its communications and the services it provides to its diverse customer base,” the letter added. “Regretfully, there has been no improvement to date.”

We'd love for you to support our work by joining as a free, partial access subscriber, or by registering as a full access member. Members get full access to all of our content, and receive a variety of bonus perks like free show tickets. Learn more here.