Rep. Brindisi blames New York State for contaminating drinking water in Oneida County

Local News

VERNON CENTER, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Congressman Anthony Brindisi Monday sent a letter to the New York State Department of Transportation demanding its leaders answer questions about contaminated drinking water in the Oneida County Hamlet of Vernon Center, in the Town of Vernon.

Brindisi believes a now-shut down salt barn, which refilled state plows, is to blame for an unhealthy amount of salt in nearby water systems.

Wells tested at 11 homes show sodium levels at 60 times the amount recommended as safe by the Department of Health.

The unsafe and visibly murky, smelly water makes it unusable for homeowners for drinking, cooking or bathing.

The state provided the neighborhood with bottled water, which Congressman Brindisi considers a passive acknowledgement of the DOT’s responsibility.

“As New York State provides these residents with bottled water, they are not providing answers,” Brindisi said. “When members of the community are being provided bottled water but no answers, that is a failure of transparency and a failure of basic government.”

The Town of Vernon Supervisor says he and engineers have a plan to fix the problem, by tapping into the treated water supply from the City of Oneida, but he says the town can’t afford the $8 million it would cost.

Late Monday, a DOT spokesperson responded to NewsChannel 9 reporter Andrew Donovan’s request for comment.

DOT spokesperson Joseph Morrissey writes: “According to two independent studies done in 2015 and 2016, there is no evidence that high levels of chloride are from the salt shed but instead are likely due to naturally occurring salt found in the soil. Nevertheless, we will review the new study and continue providing bottled water to the community until a longer-term solution is determined.”

For more local news, follow Andrew Donovan on Twitter @AndrewDonovan

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