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Advocates frustrated with study results

Public petitions Health Department for more details, speed in next phase

If there's one word that could sum up how many community members feel about a recently-released study on the Lafarge cement plant, that word would be frustrated.

That's the theme that arose again and again at a public comment meeting on the Departments of Health's draft study of the plant's health impacts. A few dozen people convened at the Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk High School for the Thursday, Dec. 9, session, and while it's sure they represented the most impassioned members of the community, they made no qualms about telling DOH representatives they expected more after months of work.

"I fear that the longer this kind of abstract modeling process goes on the higher the frustration level will be," said Susan Falzon, director of the Friends of Hudson advocacy group.

The released study is the first part of a two-stage public health assessment. The results were far from conclusive " though the department said chemicals in emissions from the Ravena plant could enter the community by way of air particles and settled dust, a study of health data in surrounding areas didn't reveal health trends to be outside the norm.

The second phase of the study will focus more closely on areas that could be receiving larger amounts of contamination, rather than examining data compiled by ZIP codes as in this first phase. Officials said that reports is expected to be done in the summer of 2011.

But many at Thursday's hearing said they expected more than number crunching. They want field testing on humans and the environment.

"We specifically made a request that we didn't want to see modeling...we wanted to see real data being collected," said Elyse Griffin, of the Community Advocates for Safe Emissions group. "It's been two years almost, and this has still not happened."

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