The Foundry Action Committee, a group of Geneva residents concerned about and living in the old- foundry zone, organized a press conference in response to the Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) confirmation that there was no confidentiality clause preventing Geneva city officials from informing residents of the soil contamination in the Foundry Zone.
Recently, the former director of public works and foundry project manager, Gordon Eddington, made claim that he was contractually obligated to remain silent about the contamination.
In Sunday’s Finger Lakes Times, City Manager Matt Horn backed the former project manager’s previous statement.
The Department of Environmental Conservation has confirmed that there was no confidentiality clause preventing the project manager or any other city official from informing residents about the contamination.
The DEC has also confirmed that no Geneva City official ever contacted them asking for permission to inform Geneva city residents about the contamination present in more than a 100 residential homes and apartment buildings.
Via email, a DEC official confirmed that, “the only restriction on the city’s release of information relates to the protection of personal, proprietary or confidential business, or financial data of persons or other companies.”
Attorney Natalie Knott stated, “The city was always free— and indeed was encouraged— by the DEC to notify residents of the contamination. At every turn the city chose to hide this information. The city has the burden of proof in this matter and they have provided zero proof that they were in any way prohibited from demonstrating basic respect to the city’s residents.”
Currently, Geneva city officials are “retroactively offering an explanation of their silence that is not supported by the facts,” said Foundry Action Committee member, Hannah Dickinson.
Member of the Foundry Action Committee, Laura Salamendra, called attendees to imagine twenty years of sick pets, homegrown vegetables, doctors’ visits, and elevated lead levels. Repeating the demands of Geneva residents put forward by the Foundry Action Committee, Salamendra called for:
- All communications from the city about the foundry zone in both English and Spanish, and an interpreter at council meetings
- Signage and fencing on the foundry site alerting people of the contamination there
- Free healthcare for all impacted residents
- Free access to nearby, supervised, outdoor spaces for children
- Free access to nearby fruits and vegetables
- Free testing and admission to dog parks for pets
- Tax relief and rent holiday until each contaminated property is cleaned up
- Compensation of back taxes covering the time between when the city knew of the contamination and when it informed the residents
Members of the Foundry Action Committee also called on Geneva’s elected officials to address the violation of trust between the city and its residents. “The Foundry Action Committee and residents of Geneva demand that the city cooperate with a full funded, immediate and independent investigation into all Foundry related matters,” said Salamendra.
She added that an independent investigation is necessary at this point.
FingerLakes1.com has reached out to the City of Geneva for comment and will update this story with the latest when they provide it.