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Wildlife pathologist, piano player on the CASE

"We knew we needed to do fundraising because Ward's testing has been heating up, and he wanted to start testing some of the carcinogens, which is much more expensive than the heavy metals," said CASE co-founder Elyse Griffin.

Since October, Stone said, he's expanded to testing areas across the Hudson in Rensselaer and Columbia counties, where he said he has also found increased mercury levels.

"It isn't just a mercury story," cautioned Stone. "Especially on the Albany County side, we've got a whole bunch of metals."

Lafarge representatives have said that the plant complies with all DEC and Department of Health guidelines and is inspected on a regular basis, and that the construction of a modernized plant is hoped to be completed by 2013. Lafarge acquired the Ravena plant in 2001.

The plant is also under review for a new operating air permit, which the public has an opportunity to submit comments on to the DEC until Jan. 11. The proposed permit would put a 176-pound-per-year cap on mercury emissions.

Stone and Griffin said they are pleased by the fact an extension on the public hearing portion of the permit review has been granted, but Stone said he feels the permit's requirements are not stringent enough.

"It is, I think, too liberal, and it is not clear to me how it works when the company starts to produce more cement," he said.

Griffin said the public hearing extension would give her group more time to examine the proposal and construct an argument.

"We think it's still too high, but at this point I can't tell you that we're recommending it to be," she said.

In a statement, Lafarge also applauded the extension of the public comment period.

Tickets for the event are $35. A silent auction featuring items and gift cards from various local businesses will also be held. To make reservations or for more information, visit CASE at www.case-ny.org.""

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