The Town of North Castle’s storage of asphalt millings derived from its road repaving program, which are being stored at the Middle Patent Road highway yard, continued to be a topic of concern at the North Castle Town Board meeting on Sept. 9.
The storage of millings has reignited controversy in recent weeks, as two town residents have suggested that the practice could contaminate water sources near where the millings are stored.
Windmill Farm resident Robert Greene, a former town Planning Board chairman, previously argued that the storage of potentially toxic millings stored at Middle Patent could threaten the nearby Windmill development with around 370 houses, as well as Coman Hill Elementary School. Greene’s argument is nearly identical to concerns local developer Michael Fareri has been making for about four years, following the onset of North Castle’s aggressive paving program to rehabilitate all 93 miles of town road.
During the public comment portion of the Sept. 9 Town Board meeting, Matt Milim, a resident of Armonk since 2013, expressed his concerns about how the town handled the millings issue in recent weeks. Milim said a number of residents have expressed concern dating back to at least 2015 about the environmental impact of storing the material so close to the community’s water supply.
“There are several sources that indicate that millings can be harmful to human health when they leach into drinking water supplies,” Milim said. “The millings pile at the Middle Patent yard is within 100 feet of the Mianus River and 1,000 yards of the water wells that supplies the Windmill community and the Coman Hill Elementary School.”
Milim raised questions about emails Michael Schiliro, Supervisor of the North Castle Town Board, wrote in response to Greene’s recent attempts to get the town to remove the millings storage.
In the emails Schiliro wrote, Milim said the millings storage was characterized as temporary and being stockpiled due to the time of the year. Milim argued that many years of millings storage is not temporary.
Milim also raised concerns in regard to oversight by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), the agency that oversees the millings issue.
“It seems to be that the DEC is only stating that they’re okay with beneficial use determination, which means recycling of the millings, not whether it’s okay to store them for six years right next to a river and water well system,” Milim said.
Milim said that NYSDEC Spokesperson Wendy Rosenbach publicly said that the beneficial use determination does not include guidelines for storage and that the NYSDEC discourages storage near water.
Additionally, Milim spoke about water testing. While it’s great that the town is regularly testing its water to ensure that the water does not exceed the level of a contaminant allowed in drinking water, Milim said, these tests are backward-looking.
“We need to be forward-looking when making these decisions and avoiding taking these kinds of risks in the first place,” Milim said. “If you wait until you have a scary water test, it’s too late.”
“I feel strongly that the town needs to be much more careful going forward in protecting our environment, and particularly in protecting our drinking water,” Milim said. “Risking our drinking water to save what is a relatively small amount of money in the scheme of what we pay in taxes in our annual budget is just a bad risk-reward.”
With him, Milim brought a blown-up image of standing water at the millings pile at Middle Patent, taken following Hurricane Ida, and expressed concerns that there was an oil or chemical sheen visible on top of the water.
North Castle Town Administrator Kevin Hay assured Milim that the sheen was not oil or chemicals but rather iron algae, which was also observed by Hay and the building inspector when they went to the storage site on Sept. 7.
“The building inspector instantly recognized it was what they call iron algae, which is a normal natural biological reaction between the irons that are in the soil and water.”
Following Milim’s public comment, Schiliro said he would respond to Milim’s concerns over email.