A Brief History of NYAAEL

In the fall of 1978, NYAAEL held its first meeting, attended by 125 lab personnel from across the state. Charles Costello and Doug Friend, the visionaries behind NYAAEL, felt that an educational association that would keep labs informed of policy changes and laws and would conduct workshops and training sessions, was needed to train the newly emerging environmental laboratory industry. When the meeting adjourned, it appeared that the group had created a foundation for a vital organization. Appearances, however, can be deceiving. The next meeting was never called and the idea wasted away.

 

In the fall of 1979, however, another meeting was scheduled. Only about 25 people attended, but within the 25 there was a strong core of committed members.  Doug Friend was appointed president, and Charles Costello vice-president.  The renewed interest in the association was apparent, as was the member’s desire for it to succeed.

 

1980 brought an opportunity for the newly formed association to utilize their bargaining power. At that time, the State Health Department did not have a program in place to assist the labs. They felt that the analyses were not being performed properly, nor could the results be relied on.

 

Unknown to the association, the Health Department proposed the construction of four regional labs to be built across the state, with the proposed building to be funded by grant money. The labs would be staffed and supervised by the Health Department. Eventually the work performed by private labs would be absorbed by the state. Through a rumor, this information came to the attention of Doug Friend who called an emergency session of the association. The group felt that they needed to respond quickly. If indeed the regional lab concept became a reality, the private sector would not only lose work, but would be paying taxes to keep the regional labs operating.

 

This kind of situation was what the association had been formed for, but with only $780.82 in the treasury, there was no money to obtain legal counsel.  When the situation became known, however, New York State Electric & Gas generously provided the services of their attorney, and through his efforts, the regional lab proposal was dropped by the state. At this point we knew that NYAAEL was a viable reality.

 

In 1985, under the direction of Dick Friend, part-time staff was brought on board to help keep the association from wasting away since the volunteer leaders were now very busy getting their own laboratories certified by with the newly formed NYS ELAP’s approval program.  Newsletters were soon sent out four times a year and in June 1989, NYAAEL held its first seminar.  In April 1990, we held our first two-day Annual Convention in Binghamton, NY.

 

During the 1990s, NYAAEL worked with a Lobbyist to help fight a battle with the NYS Department of Revenue on a Sales Tax issue.  The laboratory industry came very close to being required by the state to collect sales tax for its services.  We were also instrumental in helping to rewrite the legislation that determined how fees are collected by the state during that same time frame.

NYAAEL has continued to maintain a presence in the environmental industry.  It is the oldest state environmental laboratory association in the country and continues to provide training for all types of environmental labs.  We often think back to that day in August 1980 when we first heard the rumor about regional labs, and wonder what kind of an analytical program we would have today if NYAAEL had never existed. We are grateful for what NYAAEL has accomplished for the last 34 years, and we believe that it will continue to be here for many years to come.

history11997 - Joann Slavin, H2M, Helen Engel, retired from Oswego Water, Alan Laffin, formally from Lozior Labs, and John Eisenhardt, Smith Laboratories, NYAAEL Board of Directors in 1997.

 

history21991 - John Molloy, H2M and former Chair of NYAAEL, awarding Charlie Costello, retired, and Doug Friend, retired, for their many years of support to the organization. Charlie and Doug were two of the NYAAEL's founding members and provided countless hours and financial resources to jumpstart NYAAEL.

 

history31993 - John Eisenhardt, former NYAAEL Chair, and John Molloy, H2M, awarding John for years of service to NYAAEL.