AG’s office ‘ready to assist’ in DEC’s Falls water probe | Local News

New York’s Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says his office “stands ready to assist” the state Department of Environmental Conservation in its probe of a sizable sewage discharge that poured into the lower Niagara River and turned the water black.

Schneiderman said his office “has been in close contact” with the state DEC during its investigation, which was announced 24 hours after the July 29 incident.

“Niagara Falls is the crown jewel of our state’s environmental landmarks and any unexplained and potentially dangerous discharge must be fully investigated and pursued to the fullest extent of the law,” Schneiderman said in a prepared statement distributed by a spokesperson on Wednesday. 

The agency’s cooperation is not atypical. The Attorney General’s office has historically taken up legal cases for the state DEC if charges are deemed appropriate.

Schneiderman’s remarks came a day before the Niagara County Legislature was scheduled to hold a special meeting entertaining a call for his office to investigate the incident. The meeting will take place at 6 p.m. Thursday in Lockport. 

The Niagara Falls Water board, the entity responsible for the discharge, initially called the discharge event a “result of a routine, necessary, and short-term change in the waste water treatment process.”

By Aug. 3, the board said it was in the midst of an “internal review.” At the time, board officials described the discharge as “mostly carbon fines and some suspended solids that the treatment process did not remove,” adding the water was turned black by the carbon, which water board officials described as “normal.”

In a statement released in late evening of Aug. 4, water board Executive Director Rolfe Porter suggested a distracted employee allowed a pump to run longer than intended and caused the dark and…

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