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Governor Orders Investigation of Old Lead-Covered Cables


Several state agencies, including the DEC, are investigating old lead-covered cables left by telecommunication companies following a recent report on the potential public health risks associated with exposure to those cables.

Thursday’s action follows a media report of lead-containing cable in large and small communities across the U.S., including the State of New York. The report included the example of an aerial lead cable located in a local park in the village of Wappingers Falls, Dutchess County, and stated soil at the park perimeter had elevated lead levels above what the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considers safe in soil in areas where children play. At the Governor’s direction, state experts from the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) have initiated sampling in the area to evaluate any potential for lead exposure.

The Governor also directed the Department of Public Service (DPS), the regulator of telecommunication companies in New York, and DEC to investigate the scope of this potential concern based on past use of lead cables. As part of that effort, the agencies sent a letter to the State’s 246 facilities-based telecommunication providers to begin compiling an inventory of the presence of aerial and buried cables, both on land and below water, containing lead across New York. The letter directs telecommunication companies to provide DPS and DEC with a full inventory of lead- containing aerial and buried cable owned by the company for both cable still in use to provide service and cable that is no longer being used but has yet to be removed.

The purpose of the investigation is to better understand the inventory and ownership of such cables in New York. This information will be used to evaluate the need for additional steps. The inventory would include the type of cable (copper or fiber) and whether it is aerial or buried, as well as the city, town, or village the cable is located in, street name where the cable is located, the length of the cable, the closest intersecting landmarks at the beginning and end of the cable, and any other information that would be useful to physically locate and inspect the cable.

Studies show that no amount of lead exposure is safe for children. Lead is a metal that can harm children when it gets into their bodies. Lead can harm a young child’s growth, behavior, and ability to learn. It can also cause anemia, kidney damage, and hearing loss. There are manysources of lead.Lead can be found in dust, air, water, soil, and in some products used in and around our homes.

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