LatimerPentoKleinAirportView the Full Press Conference HERE.

May 22, 2019 – Overlooking the runways at the Westchester County Airport and joined by lawmakers and environmental activists, County Executive George Latimer signed two Executive Orders aimed at advancing the health and safety of area residents.

The two Executive Orders mandate biannual groundwater testing going forward for many contaminants, including “per- and polyfluoralkyl substances” (PFAS) and effectively bans the use of dangerous PFAS at the Westchester County Airport as soon as permitted by Federal law.

Latimer said: “These Executive Orders are public policy of my Administration already - but informally - and we're going to formalize them with an Executive Order. They represent protections for the people of Westchester County by making sure that these particular chemicals are always tested for and we as a County make an effort to be sure that these chemicals are not used on this property.”

In 2018, Latimer voluntarily reinstated groundwater testing at the Westchester County Airport for pollutants after the testing program was discontinued in 2011. The program was discontinued without approval of the Board of Legislators or notification to the public. PFAS are a class of toxic contaminants, previously used by firefighters during training, which pose an emerging threat to drinking water in many areas of the country.

Westchester County Legislator Nancy Barr will introduce legislation that would codify these Executive Orders into Westchester County law.

Barr said: “This is the culmination of conversations that we've been having over the last several months. What I am proposing to do is to take these Executive Orders and codify them - make them law - so that they cannot easily be removed. I'm really proud to be able to introduce these. We feel on the legislature that this is our job to protect health and safety of our residents and that's precisely what this law does. It shouldn't be up to the whim of whoever happens to be in the County Executive seat at the time.”

These actions come from significant public input, including from many local environmental groups and are further evidence of the Latimer Administration’s collaborative approach to County Government.

The Coalition to Prevent Westchester Airport Expansion, an organization made up of many prominent environmental organizations and was represented at the press conference by Coalition Chairman George Klein and other key members, said: “We highly commend Westchester County Executive Latimer’s decisive action in the form of the two executive orders he is signing today.  More comprehensive and aggressive testing of ground water at the airport is a very welcome development, as is the elimination of firefighting foam containing fluorinated chemicals as soon as the FAA allows it. These actions will help protect our drinking water supply and public health from activities at our County airport.  We appreciate that CE Latimer took the Coalition’s suggestions to heart, and we look forward to continuing to work together with him and with legislator Nancy Barr to help protect the water and public health of Westchester residents. The Coalition supports a vibrant yet limited and environmentally responsible County airport that puts residents' needs first.”

Following the signing, Latimer gave Klein the pen used on the Executive Orders as a sign of his commitment to working collaboratively.