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Activist raises concerns about growing threat of toxic algae


ALBANY — Walter Hang, an anti-fracking activist and head of environmental data firm Toxics Targeting, says Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration isn't doing enough to fight harmful algal blooms in lakes and small water bodies across the state.

Speaking in Albany on Wednesday, Hang highlighted Department of Environmental Conservation data on reported and confirmed harmful algal blooms in New York state. There have been more than 90 so far this year, according to the data. The blooms of algae that produce harmful toxins can close beaches, pose a risk to humans and pets, and threaten drinking water without proper treatment.

"We really need a comprehensive assessment of pollution hazards watershed by watershed, starting with the critical drinking water supplies," Hang said. "The state has not achieved enough progress in recent years."

Cuomo has acknowledged the risk of algal blooms in the state's pristine lakes, and last year he directed the DEC and other state agencies to work with local communities and experts to craft action plans to address the issue for 12 water bodies. Cuomo's plan then calls for those communities and others with harmful algal blooms to compete for about $55 million in state funding to implement these solutions.

DEC chief of staff Julie Tighe called Hang's charge that the state is not doing enough to address toxic algae blooms "irresponsible."


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