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Historians: Albany port plan threatens Dutch site

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Two experts in Colonial history say a plan to build a crude oil facility at the Port of Albany would destroy the buried remnants of the first Dutch settlement built in what would become New York state.

Albany-area historians Don Rittner and John Wolcott say the port was the site of Fort Nassau, built on an island in 1614 by Dutch explorers as a trading post. Spring floods along the Hudson River later forced them to relocate to a nearby site and build Fort Orange, which later became Albany.

Wolcott says the remains of Fort Nassau are located in a section of the Albany port where a company wants to build a facility to heat crude oil hauled in by trains before it's transferred to ships for transport.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Styrofoam ban becomes law in Albany County

Albany County Executive Dan McCoy outlines a new environmental plan for the county before signing the Styrofoam ban bill into law. - Abigail Bleck / WNYT

ALBANY - Beginning July 1, many businesses in Albany County will not be able to send you home with take-out containers or hot drink cups made of Styrofoam.

After much debate, the Albany County legislature did pass the bill, but there was discussion that County Executive Dan McCoy would veto it.

That did not happen and McCoy signed the bill into law Thursday morning.

It prevents chains restaurants -- any business with more than 15 locations around the country -- from using Styrofoam take-out and drink containers.

There will be fines for establishments that don’t comply and Albany County will rely on inspectors and citizen complaints to keep the businesses in check.

The bill becomes law Jan. 1, but stores and restaurants have six months to phase in these mandatory changes.

"We made a county-wide policy that will make sure we are going to do everything in our power to reduce, reuse and recycle," McCoy said.

Potential Styrofoam ban debated in Albany County

ALBANY - Albany County Executive Dan McCoy listened to what the people had to say about the potential future of Styrofoam containers in the county.

The new law would require disposable food service containers at chains stores and restaurants to be biodegradable.

Dennis Martin from Hannaford says it would cause major problems with food safety.

"We also are not aware of any suppliers of biodegradable and compostable film that is certified for food. So we hope that you'll refer back the legislation for refinement and include recyclable packaging as an option," Martin said.

Grace Nichols from Berkeley Ecology Center disagrees.

"I think it's really important to remember that this is the wave of the future. We do need to return to paper packaging," Nichols said.

The managers at plants that make the Styrofoam say a ban like this could cost a lot of people their jobs.

Judge snuffs out smoking ban for parks

A New York State judge is ordering state park officials to stop enforcing a recent ban on outdoor smoking.

Justice George Ceresia says the no-smoking rule is not supported by any policy set by the Legislature.

He notes that while lawmakers enacted restrictions on indoor smoking, the Assembly and Senate have attempted but failed to target smoking in outdoor parks.

Parks officials said they enacted the rules to protect visitors from secondhand smoke. They plan to appeal.

Volunteers turning Albany eyesores into green space

ALBANY - Volunteers in Albany took advantage of Friday's beautiful weather to create green space.

The Lexington Neighborhood Workshop was formed this summer after seven abandoned buildings were deemed unsafe by the city and knocked down.

Members say they want to transform the area from an eyesore to a breath of fresh air.

The work group says it will make additional improvements to the green space in the spring.

Students study 'day in the life' of Hudson River

RENSSELAER - Thousands of high school students across New York have been deployed all along the Hudson River to sample a day in the life of the river.

They are collecting water samples and gathering data as part of an assignment.

It's a program put on by the state Department of Environmental Conservation. The program helps students understand how their piece of the river fits into the larger Hudson estuary ecosystem.

This program is in its eighth year. More than 3,000 students and educators are participating.

Senator wants Pine Bush designated as national natural landmark

The Karner Blue Butterfly, which makes its home in the Pine Bush. - U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand wants to make the Albany Pine Bush Preserve a national natural landmark.

The senator has sent a letter to the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, asking for the designation.

Gillibrand says the Pine Bush, home to the Karner Blue Butterfly, is "a gem of ecological diversity and rare geological landforms."

The U.S. has 596 designated national natural landmarks, including 25 in New York.