Local News: February 1, 2024

- Suspect pleads guilty to all charges in Tioga Downs stable fire that killed 30 horses -

The man charged with starting a fire that killed 30 horses at Tioga Downs has pleaded guilty to all charges. WENY-TV reports Tioga County District Attorney announced on Monday that Boyd Fenton admitted starting the fire that killed 30 race horses, and a cat and left a trainer with 2nd degree burns. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for April 19. The arson charge carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in state prison. Fenton faces other charges for over 100 felonies.

- Schuyler County communities among those added to state drinking water protection program -

Montour Falls Village and Odessa in Schuyler County are among 39 municipalities included in a state program to improve the protection of municipal drinking water sources. The goal is to protect drinking water sources from contamination and assess what are called “modern vulnerabilities" which could be a cyber attack or natural disaster like a hurricane that would damage the water system’s infrastructure.

The program also helps communities access to state and federal aid, work with landowners to create easements or develop local protective zones. Bolton Point, which provides drinking water for Ithaca, Lansing, Cayuga Heights, and Dryden is already part of the program. The initiative is a partnership between the state Department of Environmental Conservation, the state health department, and other agencies.

- Gillibrand introduces bill to make it easier for victims of ‘forever chemical’ contamination to sue manufacturers -

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand introduced on a bill on Thursday that would make it easier for victims of significant PFAS contamination to sue the chemicals’ manufacturers to get monitoring for the detection and treatment of illnesses related to PFAS exposure. Gillibrand said the legislation would apply to exposure from sludge used as fertilizer that then leaches into groundwater and well water. 

"You wouldn’t be able to spread the sewage if it had PFAS in it. But you can’t reintroduce PFAS into our groundwater and into people’s communities. So, if you’re spreading anything you have to test it for PFAS or you’d be held accountable under this law," she said during a video press conference.

Gillibrand said the bill will have overwhelming support from Democratic members of Congress. She said she hopes the bill gets support from Republican senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine.

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