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Joe Streany, Environmentalist?

March 6, 2008

Joseph Streany, Croton-on-HudsonJoe Streany, Environmentalist? We think not. Joe Streany, an employee of the Metro-North Commuter Railroad, is running in the upcoming election for the post of Trustee of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson. He is basing his campaign on no other qualification than his record of self-promoting volunteerism, as if that dubious criterion entitled him to take an active role in the governance of the village. Voters have a right to know the real Joe Streany.

Crotonblog has already shown Joe Streany to be ethically challenged and willing to violate the State Ethics Law governing the actions of public officers. He has admitted to seeking to enrich an organization officered by him—namely, his local sports booster club—by making illegal demands on contractors to the railroad for graft under the guise of being “contributions.” This official blackmail went on for five long years. The whole sordid story of the Joe Streany who does not obey the law can be read in a recent post titled, “Will the Real Joe Streany Please Stand Up?

The Metro-North Commuter Railroad could hardly be called a paragon of environmental virtue or a good neighbor to this village. It pollutes Croton’s atmosphere by allowing its large diesel locomotives to run endlessly to keep them warm in cold weather. It pollutes the shores and river waters of the village of Croton by dumping carcinogenic materials. And it has polluted its own rail yards so thoroughly as to create a hazardous waste site right under the windows of Half Moon Bay.

Almost twenty years ago, in April of 1989, the railroad was cited by the DEC for pumping pollutants into the Croton Marsh, a tidal arm of the Hudson and Croton Rivers.

Joe Streany, in his capacity as deputy director of safety, can hardly claim ignorance of the Croton Marsh violation. The polluting stream of foul liquid issued from a pipe installed by the railroad, and was plainly visible to everyone from employees and commuters to shore walkers—but not to Croton’s Joe Streany.

The railroad’s deliberate defiance is reminiscent of the days when “robber baron” Cornelius Vanderbilt and his New York Central rode roughshod over competitors and government. His son, William H. Vanderbilt, president of the railroad, is famous for having uttered the phrase “The public be damned” to a reporter.

Crotonblog has uncovered incontrovertible evidence that Joe Streany has little regard for Croton or the health of its citizens. When the chips were down in August of that same year, Mr. Streany revealed his true colors and showed himself to have little desire to protect Croton. The occasion was the New York Department of Environmental Conservation’s reversal of its decision to remove railroad ties that had been dumped in the waters of Croton Marsh.

Seen from above on Earthlink, the marsh at low tide looks like some giant had spilled a box of huge toothpicks into this once-pristine haunt of wildlife. The toxic oily sheen on the marsh discourages wildlife and surely killed any unfortunate creatures that made their home there.

Expressing relief at the DEC’s decision, an obviously relieved Joe Streany told a New York Times reporter, “removal of the ties would cost millions and pose a tremendous economic problem for the railroad.” His position, of course, totally overlooks the environmental cost to the village of Croton-on-Hudson of the failure to remove the ties, which are impregnated with creosote made from coal tar.

Pooh-poohing the dangers of creosote, Mr. Streany added that the railroad’s own analysis of the effects of creosote showed that the preservative is not a hazard in the environment. He claimed, with his own peculiar brand of logic, “the ties are old and therefore they have absorbed the creosote.” This completely ignores the fact that in the creosoting process, the ties are forced to absorb the creosote under pressure. Contrary to Mr. Streany’s ridiculous claim, over time the abandoned ties literally release the absorbed water-soluble toxic components and allow them to leach into the surrounding river waters.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the International Agency for Research on Cancer both consider creosote to be a carcinogen. In 2003, the European Union restricted creosote only to professional use, noting that the risk of skin cancer had probably been underestimated previously.

“A witch’s brew of toxic chemicals.” That’s how an angry John Cronin, then the riverkeeper for the Hudson River Fishermen’s Association, described creosote. He told a New York Times reporter that his organization was considering legal action against Metro-North to force it to remove the ties and that the association planned to file notice of its intent this week.

“The state will not, it cannot, stand up to the railroad,” Mr. Cronin said. He added, “the quasi-governmental transportation industry is the most powerful in the state.” Despite what he described as “the railroad’s poor environmental record,” he noted in the same New York Times story dating from August 13, 1989, that the state has taken little action.

Fortunately, wiser heads prevailed, and a plan for removal of the ties is now in place. Croton owes no debt of gratitude for this change to turncoat Joe Streany, who unrelentingly fought tie removal tooth and nail all the way. We all know now where his allegiance lies. Even so-called “dumb animals” have the basic good sense not to foul their own nests. But not Croton’s Joe Streany.

Joe Streany, environmentalist? We think not.


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