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What you need to know for 09/26/2017

Oil spills reported at Momentive as strikers plan next move

Oil spills reported at Momentive as strikers plan next move

Disgruntled employees plan picket action in New York City
Oil spills reported at Momentive as strikers plan next move
Momentive Performance Materials used chemical booms to contain a diesel fuel spill on Thursday January 12, 2017.
Photographer: MARC SCHULTZ/GAZETTE PHOTOGRAPHER

Two oil spills were reported Thursday morning at the Momentive Performance materials facility in Waterford, as striking union workers prepared to picket the New York City firm that’s supplying the chemical company with replacement workers.

The first spill involved 3.2 ounces of diesel fuel leaking from a dump truck onto asphalt, while the second saw 10 gallons of diesel fuel leak from a semitrailer, making its way to the Mudderkill Creek that drains into the Hudson River, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation, whose staff responded to the spills Thursday morning.

A sheen was spotted on the creek, and floating containment booms were installed to prevent the fuel from reaching the river; neither spill appeared to hit the Hudson, the DEC said.

MomentiveSPILLS8_0.jpgThe bigger spill occurred at around 8:15 a.m., when a third-party vehicle leaked the fuel onto pavement near Schoolhouse Lane, Momentive spokeswoman Tina Reiber said. 

"In accordance with our standard procedures, our Environmental Health and Safety team moved expeditiously to properly manage the non-process-related vehicle spill,” she said. “Traffic on-site was halted, and the spill was contained and cleaned up.”

Union leaders took the opportunity to highlight an increase in spills at the plant since the strike began on Nov. 3. They also took aim at Apollo Global Management, the private equity firm that owns 40 percent of Momentive. Apollo brought in workers to keep the plant operational during the strike, the union said.

In an advisory publicizing a trip to Apollo's New York City headquarters, the union said workers supplied the New York City firm were “unskilled … resulting in a tenfold increase of chemical accidents at the plant.”

“These things are preventable,” said Joseph Isgro, a striking operator at Momentive who took pictures of Thursday's spill. “Our brigade members are fantastic -- some of the best-trained people in the state.”

According to the DEC Spill Incidents Database, there were 11 spills in the month of November — including a 100-gallon spill of siloxane, a main component of silicone, on Nov. 23. There were 20 spills in December. Those numbers are up from fewer than five spills in September and three in October.

Reiber, with Momentive, previously said reported spills increase this time of year because the sheen they produce is more visible on rainy days — like Thursday.  

The striking workers plan to deliver more than 4,000 signatures calling on Apollo CEO Leon Black to negotiate a fair contract. They planned to leave from Waterford at 10 a.m. Friday and from Albany at 11 a.m.

The union said its 700 members are protesting a 50-percent cut in wages, cuts to healthcare benefits, frozen pensions and the elimination of health care and pensions for retirees since Momentive, previously GE Silicones, was spun off to private equity firms in 2006.

Daily Gazette Reporter Cady Kuzmich contributed to this report.

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