The town of Bethlehem fired Albany County Sheriff's deputy Gary Fish after he served 12 years as a part-time patrolman for the town's water supply.
Fish claims he was fired because he spoke out about the mercury spill at the town's water plant, but town officials insist he was fired because of repeated scheduling conflicts but would not comment further because the incident is a personnel matter.
As a veteran police officer of 23 years, Fish said the town wasn't fully disclosing incidents involving mercury and other problems at the town's water plant in the town of New Scotland. He was hired by the town in 1996 to help patrol the restricted reservoir and its watershed from potential trespassers.
Fish alleges that his termination has nothing to do with scheduling and is the result of him talking to the town's attoney James Potter after a meeting about inaccuracies in the report given to the public regarding mercury spills at the water plant.
He said more mercury was released inside of the water plant then what was reported and that workers were constantly put at risk by "having to track through mercury for two years."
There were two reported mercury spills at the town's water plant over the past two years. The mercury had escaped from outdated mercury flow meters still used at the plant, which contain up to five pounds of mercury in each one. The town said the spills were small and that mercury did not reach the drinking water.
Bethlehem is slated to replace all of flow meters as result of the spills, but according to Fish about six still remain.
"I had come forward to someone in town government after a town board meeting because the story that was being reported wasn't true," Fish told Spotlight Newspapers in an exclusive interview. "It's kind of odd when someone has worked for 12 years and comes forward with information and lo and behold they are fired."