Niagara Falls, NY — In the eyes of Governor Andrew Cuomo, there's no question over who is at fault for the black discharge in the Niagara Falls gorge in late July, or the damage it caused to the Falls' reputation.
Cuomo laid out stiff punishment on Thursday for the Niagara Falls Water Board, in response to the black discharge released into the falls during peak tourist hours on July 29th, when the first images began to surface of an inky, odorous discharge appearing in the water near the Maid of the Mist docks.
“This plant has done a lot of damage to statewide efforts, with the damage they created and the images they’ve created,” said Cuomo, saying those first images have now gone viral and spread to viewers across the world.
Cuomo announced Thursday, as part of the Department of Environmental Conservation’s investigation into the matter, that an executive consent order will now be issued to the water board; this order would prohibit any future discharges without DEC supervision, a mandatory re-training of all employees, and a $50,000 fine.
It’s all to make sure, according to Cuomo, this never happens again.
“We’re investing more than the state has ever invested before, $2.5 billion we just passed, to provide clean water,” Cuomo said. “This situation, where we have a plant and they just improperly operate the plant, is just wholly inexcusable.”
Cuomo also dispelled any rumor that the age or the condition of the plant was partly responsible for the discharge, referring to the idea as “creating a boogeyman.”
In a statement issued late Thursday afternoon, the Water Board said:
"Today the NFWB was made aware of various public comments offered by Governor Andrew Cuomo and the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation regarding the July 29th black water discharge situation and related incident report findings.
As the NFWB has not yet had the opportunity to review the draft consent order referenced by Governor Cuomo, we cannot therefore comment on its contents; however, the board does look forward to assessing the documents and will subsequently work with the DEC to improve plant performance and prevent any re-occurrences.
We have always been and remain committed to doing everything possible with the technology in place to safeguard the natural beauty of the Niagara River and to comply with and exceed wherever possible all environmental rules, standards and permits.
The NFWB joins Governor Cuomo and the DEC in a united desire to preserve the natural wonder of Niagara Falls. We will continue to work with DEC in the coming weeks and months, and expect to engage in ongoing, collaborative dialogue regarding the terms of the draft consent order to maximize the environmental benefits of any improvements made.
The NFWB will continue to provide periodic public and ratepayer updates on overflow and other discharge matters as such information becomes available. Updates will be available at www.NFWB.org. "