National group opposes Veolia sewage audit

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BINGHAMTON, NY – A national environmental and consumer advocacy group is throwing its support behind local activists opposed to a proposed contract with a multinational firm to audit the Binghamton Johnson City Joint Sewage Treatment Plant’s management plan.

Food and Water Watch sent emails to Binghamton Mayor Rich David and members of City Council encouraging them not to move forward with a plan to have Veolia conduct a review of maintenance practices at the plant.

Some local activists and council members have questioned whether Veolia can be an impartial auditor as it played a role in the recently completed 275 million dollar rehabilitation of the facility.

Food and Water alleges that the company is simply trying to get its foot in the door to position itself to become the private operator of the plant.

Food and Water Watch opposes privatization of drinking water and waste water treatment facilities.

Senior Organizer Eric Weltman also decries Veolia’s alleged role in doing testing during Flint Michigan’s infamous lead-tainted water scandal.

“The folks of Binghamton and Johnson City should remember the tragic lead contamination in Flint that has destroyed so many lives. This company, Veolia, said that the water was safe. This is clearly a company that can’t be trusted,” says Weltman.

A representative of Veolia met with Council members during their virtual work session yesterday evening.

Veolia offered the following statement to NewsChannel 34: Veolia North America is committed to working with communities throughout the country to deliver safe, reliable water treatment services. We are proud of our track record of meeting the needs of municipalities like Binghamton. Despite outrageous claims to the contrary, Veolia North America is not to blame in Flint. Flint citizens have endured a horrible set of circumstances and we share their outrage. The blame for the Flint water crisis rests squarely with a host of government actors, not Veolia North America. Our dedicated website addresses all the questions that have been asked. To learn the facts about our involvement in Flint, visit veoliaflintfacts.com.

Mayor David has said that he’s simply looking to safeguard ratepayers’ investment in the facility and that his critics would take issue with any company he suggested.

A vote on the $66,000 auditing contract is scheduled for tomorrow evening.

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