The New York state Senate has approved legislation designed to hold criminals responsible for environmental damage that occurs during their crimes.
Rochester Senator Joe Robach introduced the bill after thieves broke into the old Russell Station power plant in Greece to steal copper out of transformers.
In the process of looting the copper, they broke open the 1940s-vintage oil-cooled transformer and spilled gallons of oil containing highly toxic PCBs into Slater Creek and Lake Ontario. The environmental cleanup cost $1 million dollars.
Sponsors say current criminal mischief statutes don't adequately cover such a situation, so the bill makes crimes that result in large-scale environmental damage a class C felony.
The bill has been sent to the Assembly.