Health Department Issues Violation

Below is a response to inquiries made to the Putnam County Department of Health from the Journal News on September 16.

First, in response to DEP’s report of the field inspection which it conducted on September 4, 2019, an inspector from the PCDOH performed a site inspection on September 5, 2019 to investigate the observance of kitchen wastewater on the ground at the back door.  At the time of the inspection, no water was observed on the ground at the back door of the kitchen (except for a couple of small rain water puddles). The inspector discussed with the restaurant staff that no mop water or other wastewater could be dumped in the back outdoor area and that all mop water must be dumped into the kitchen mop sink or the toilet.  Since he did not witness any mop water or wastewater on the ground or any leaks at the time of inspection, no violations were written.  DEP was subsequently notified of this fact and the complaint was closed out by them.  However, the PCDOH continues to monitor this situation and this condition to ensure that wastewater is not being discharged from the kitchen.  In fact, a follow up inspection was performed this afternoon and no evidence of improper waste water dumping or sewage/septic discharge was observed.

Second, with respect to the use of the sewer system to the property, a copy of DEP’s field inspection report, which is dated September 9, 2019, was emailed to the PCDOH on September 11, 2019.  A review of the matter was conducted and it has been determined that a violation of the Putnam County Sanitary Code and the 1993 approvals has occurred.  As such, a Notice of Non-Compliance is being issued to the property owners by the PCDOH.  Said Notice affords the property owner 30 days to achieve compliance before enforcement proceedings will be commenced.

Regardless of the above, the County does not have the ability to disconnect the sewer line, as it does not maintain jurisdiction over DEP’s wastewater treatment plant or the Town’s collection system.  It is our understanding that the cap on the force main in the manhole at the intersection of 6N and Clarke Place which was removed is either the property of the Town or DEP and that any recapping would therefore need to be addressed by them.

A retraction request was made on September 18 to clarify certain misrepresentations:

An email communication was sent to David Wilson and three (3) separate editors last evening from the Putnam County Attorney explaining that your newspaper that Mr. Wilson had misrepresented certain facts which were provided to him in writing by a secretary in the County Executive’s Office.  Specifically, you were advised that the email message was simply a recitation of the facts as outlined by a representative of that Department and that both the Commissioner of the Department of Health and his confidential secretary were absent from the office on the date that the inquiry was made, and as such, were not available to craft a response to your inquiries.  Therefore, the County Executive’s Office simply passed along a summary of what had occurred from the Department of Health’s perspective, a fact which was made plainly clear in that email.   As is also made clear in that email, all of the actions which were taken by the County of Putnam were taken by and through the Department of Health, as that is the agency with jurisdiction in this matter, and not by the County Executive’s Office.

Despite the foregoing, however, and despite having had this information at the time that your newspaper apparently went to print, Mr. Wilson led with a headline on page 1 below the fold that states “County Executive cites Barile for Violating Permit”, which is both factually inaccurate and misleading.  Once again, and in an effort to make this as clear as possible to you, the County Executive has absolutely no jurisdiction to cite anyone for a violation of the Putnam County Sanitary Code.  Mr. Wilson understood this fact at the time that you allowed him to go to print, since the article itself states that “a notice of non-compliance is being issued to the property owners by the Putnam County Department of Health”.  Including a headline that is misleading could potentially confuse your readers.

On behalf of the Putnam County Department of Health, I would therefore request that a retraction be printed to correct this error and to correctly inform the public as to the true nature of the facts of this case.