Connect with us

International Circuit

New York governor directs agencies to investigate lead cables

New York Governor Kathy Hochul on Thursday directed state departments to investigate health risks associated with old lead-clad cables left by telecommunication companies.

The Wall Street Journal this month reported that telecom companies, including AT&T and Verizon Communications, had left toxic lead cables on poles, underwater and buried under ground across the U.S. including in New York.

The investigation is to better understand the inventory and ownership of such cables in New York, Hochul said.

As part of the effort, 246 telecommunication companies operating in the state were asked to provide a full inventory of lead-containing aerial and buried cable owned by them, both in operation and those unused.

“Lead-covered cables pose a serious threat to communities across New York … We will hold the telecommunication companies responsible and take swift action to remediate any problems,” Hochul said.

Verizon said it is “taking these concerns regarding lead-sheathed cables very seriously. Lead-sheathed infrastructure has not been deployed in decades by Verizon or its predecessor companies.”

AT&T declined to comment but says it believes the cables pose no public health risk.

“If there’s any new scientific data, we’ll work cooperatively with all stakeholders to address new safety concerns,” AT&T CEO John Stankey said in an email to employees.

The Communications Workers of America said on Thursday that AT&T agreed to allow employees who may have been exposed to lead during work to receive paid time off to be tested for lead levels.

“AT&T’s commitment to addressing our members’ exposure to lead must go beyond point-in-time testing of blood lead levels and incorporate proper follow up,” the union said.

AT&T said in a court filing it planned voluntary testing for employees who work with or have worked with lead-clad cables, expanding a prior practice of providing testing for technicians involved in lead-clad cable removal.

Federal Communications Commission chair Jessica Rosenworcel on Thursday said she had reached out to the Environmental Protection Agency and White House Council of Environmental Quality to discuss lead-cable concerns.

“We want to discuss with them what their plans are and want to figure out how we can assist them going ahead,” said Rosenworcel, who heads the telecom regulator.

U.S. Representative Pat Ryan of New York on Thursday wrote to the CEOs of Verizon, AT&T and industry group U.S. Telecom, demanding that they remove lead cables.

“They need to clean up their mess and safely remove these cables immediately,” Ryan said. Reuters

Copyright © 2023.Broadcast and Cablesat

error: Content is protected !!