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Covanta Energy Under Fire Over Substance Raining Down On Long Island

WESTBURY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- What's falling from the sky on Long Island?

Some who live and work near a massive power-generating incinerator fear toxic ash is raining down on them, CBS 2's Jennifer McLogan reported Wednesday.

Air traffic controllers from the Federal Aviation Administration radar tower in Westbury have been covering their cars. They said their next-door neighbor, the massive Covanta waste-to-energy plant, located just off the Meadowbrook Parkway since 1989, has of late been spewing a white particulate matter from its incinerators.

"A sort of off-white pot ash-type of sediment, and it settles onto the cars. The car you can wash, what I'd really like to know is what am I breathing?" FAA employee Randy Brown said.

Covanta Energy produces power by burning garbage, power that is sold to PSEG.

Supporters call it an efficient, safe and environmentally "green" way of generating electricity from refuse.

But now, some residents worry and wonder just what is falling from the sky.

"You feel mist on your face and look up and then you realize it's not raining, it is coming from the incinerator," East Meadow homeowner Kirsten Healy said.

White mist is visible across the horizon of Nassau County's "hub," malls and restaurants border the plant. Roosevelt Raceway shopping center, The Source, Eisenhower Park Golf Course and Nassau Community College are all within a half mile.

"We are a group of voices saying please provide us with information so that everyone who works or travels in this area should know they are in a safe working environment," Westbury resident Thomas Fleming said.

Local workers and residents are calling on lawmakers for action.

"I'm going to ask the EPA to come in quickly, expeditiously, test the air quality, test the plant, make sure that everything is healthy," said U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.

The Covanta plant told CBS 2 what's coming down from the sky is not ash; it is merely moisture from the cooling tower -- calcium from well water that dries into sediment.

Plant representatives said they constantly test and monitor all emissions to make certain they remain 100 percent safe.

Despite the plant's claims, local residents said they are demanding proof from the EPA that what is falling on them, and their cars, is not toxic.

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