ALBANY, N.Y. (WRGB) — A secret stash of state-made hand sanitizer, more than four million dollars’ worth, all of it expired or about to expire, has been wasted by the government, WRGB was tipped off.
It was unveiled in March of 2020, by then-governor Andrew Cuomo who introduced it as NYS Clean, a hand sanitizer made by New York State prison inmates. It came at a time when hand gel was hard to find in stores, and when you could find it, the price was spiking.
But you can get too much of a good thing.
Fast forward to the present, and New York can't seem to wash its hands with this hand sanitizer.
WRGB witnessed a secret stash covered in blue tarps, sitting unused and untouched on a remote runway at a former airport that is now the NYS Preparedness training center in Oriskany, about an hour and a half west of Albany, New York.
There are just over 700,000 gallons sitting at the center.
Cuomo told WRGB it cost $6.10 a gallon to make NYS clean, so we’ll do the math for you.
That’s about $4.3 million dollars going to waste under those tarps.
Here's what the NYS Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services had to say:
"At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic two years ago, NYS Clean hand sanitizer was mass produced by the State and made widely available to New Yorkers at a critical time when it was in short supply. Surplus pallets were transported to the State Preparedness Training Center in Oriskany, where they are currently being stored. Due to the quantity of this flammable material, it must be stored outdoors to meet fire code and the location offers the necessary space to do so at no additional cost to taxpayers. NYS is in the process of safely disposing of the material."
Lawmakers from both parties say they are stunned. Democratic Assemblyman Kevin Cahill said “No way” when WRGB showed him the photos. He went on to say “Did they overproduce some things, yes. How did that happen? I don’t know”.
Republican Assemblywoman Mary Beth Walsh said, “My reaction is pretty much like anyone else’s. That’s nuts, what a waste”.
Other lawmakers, such as Republican Senator Anthony Palumbo, want to see an investigation take place.
In the meantime, New York State is not saying anything about the method or cost when it comes to getting rid of all the excess NYS Clean hand sanitizer.