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Contaminated Water Fountains:Rebecca Seawright steps up. Will it be enough?

Updated 39 weeks ago David Stone
State Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright visited with her daughter on Roosevelt Island Day.
State Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright visited with her daughter on Roosevelt Island Day.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

Arguably, the worst part of the spectacularly drawn out issue of contaminated water fountains on Roosevelt Island is RIOC's refusal to accept responsibility or to reach out to the public with details. After The Daily contacted State Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright, she made RIOC aware that she was paying attention.

For more than 25 years, RIOC's been responsible for supplying water fountains in Roosevelt Island playgrounds and parks with untreated irrigation water. It's by definitions unfit for human or animal consumption,  technically referred to as "non potable."

RIOC knows this. Apart from the State agency's allowing it to take place for all these years, the most distressing fact is that RIOC's not reached out to the public with a mea culpa or details. Without question, Roosevelt Islanders, past and present, have a right to be told the truth.

But RIOC won't do it.

Why doesn't matter. It's an egregious violation of the public trust.

You, your children, your parents, your visiting friends, any of them might've been made sick drinking the water bubbling out of fountains, never suspecting the cause. Children at play drank from them, day after day, as did I and other runners out jogging the Roosevelt Island trail.

Don't we deserve to be told?

This disgrace was made worse by the findings of Long Island Analytical Laboratory, brought in by RIOC under pressure to test the fountains for contaminates. 

Among other things, LIA found cancer causing chemicals in Capobianco Park, unacceptable levels of bacteria in Southpoint and Lighthouse Park, and excess iron.

RIOC has had this information for over a month, but instead of warning the public of hazards to which we may have been exposed, they took pains to keep it secret. They even issued a press release in which a top State health official was quoted saying there was nothing to be concerned with in the report. 

But RIOC did not release the report and allow residents to reach their own conclusions.

Yesterday, one public official, Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright, stepped up. She sent a letter to RIOC President/CEO Susan Rosenthal, acknowledging she was monitoring the situation.

"Please provide an update on the status of any efforts to remediate the conditions," Seawright wrote, "and notify the public of this potential health hazard."

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So far, no change from RIOC. It's still "the public be damned."

RIOC's had the information since early August. They've shown no indication that they will honor the public's right to know.

You're welcome to speculate why. RIOC isn't saying.

 

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