“There’s a approach to correctly eliminate it,” mentioned Diana Aga, the director of the RENEW Institute on the College of Buffalo, which research environmental points. “The difficulty right here is the quantity.”

The excess hand sanitizer, which Cuomo ordered prisoners at three state services to make from March 2020 to October 2020, is simply the most recent instance of wasted sources rushed into manufacturing within the early days of the pandemic.

State governments throughout the nation scurried to purchase and procure provides and gear as Covid-19 unfold via the nation — significantly New York, which was the primary epicenter of the virus and noticed as many as 800 deaths a day.

Just like the hand sanitizer, lots of the merchandise had been by no means wanted and sit dormant at services throughout the state. Close by the pallets of hand sanitizer at a state emergency coaching facility close to Utica are 89 new HVAC methods that had been equipped by the Federal Emergency Administration Company for pop-up Covid care services in 2020 that had been by no means used.

New York mentioned it plans to promote the items, costing thousands and thousands of {dollars}, at an public sale this summer time — absolutely for pennies on the greenback — and provides the proceeds to FEMA.

Critics mentioned states ought to undertake detailed accounting of what was bought in the course of the early days of the pandemic, significantly in New York, the place Cuomo gained consideration for his nationally broadcast Covid information briefings and common bulletins that garnered every day headlines.

“It’s a part of the bigger story in wanting again on the choices that the administration has made to get a full account of these errors and perceive how we should always not repeat them,” mentioned state Assemblymember Ron Kim (D-Queens), who battled Cuomo over the dealing with of Covid deaths at nursing houses. “Everyone knows that he was infatuated with gimmicks and headlines with out truly following via on the small print and delivering the outcomes he would lead with on the press conferences.”

The NYS Clear operation, run by Corcraft, the state’s prison-run enterprise operation, was hailed by Cuomo as a approach to make free hand sanitizer that might be utilized by native governments and well being care services amid an instantaneous scarcity and value spikes. He joked at a March 9, 2020, information convention that the hand sanitizer smelled like a “floral bouquet” with a touch of lilac and hydrangea after which had an aide on the convention desk odor his fingers to substantiate the scent.

The gallon bottles — which, together with 2-ounce and 8-ounce variations, have a potent 75 % isopropyl alcohol-based method that’s greater than most store-bought sanitizers — turned ubiquitous across the state. The bottles had been present in fuel stations, public areas and authorities buildings, typically with warnings to pump gradual: the sanitizer shot out quick and onto folks’s garments and footwear.

“On the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic two years in the past, NYS Clear hand sanitizer was mass produced by the state and made broadly obtainable to New Yorkers at a important time when it was briefly provide,” the state Division of Homeland Safety and Emergency Providers mentioned in an announcement to POLITICO.

Wealthy Azzopardi, a spokesperson for Cuomo, defended the manufacturing of the abundance of hand sanitizer.

“We make no apologies for single-handedly fixing a hand sanitizer scarcity disaster throughout a as soon as in a century pandemic,” he mentioned. “Whereas others had been content material to do nothing and let panic set in, Governor Cuomo stepped up and made positive that anybody who wanted hand sanitizer obtained it, placing collectively an infrastructure that distributed 7.5 million items to New Yorkers freed from cost to them.”

Azzopardi put the blame for the unused stockpile on Gov. Kathy Hochul’s administration, saying Cuomo’s workplace continued to distribute it till he left workplace.

“If the present one didn’t do the identical, I don’t know what to let you know. If the Ron Kims of the world — who did nothing in the course of the pandemic — wish to proceed to take low-cost pictures to advance their private politics, then what else is new?” Azzopardi mentioned.

Cuomo resigned in scandal final August.

Initially, the hand sanitizer batches had been made and bottled on the Nice Meadow Correctional Facility within the Adirondacks. Then manufacturing expanded to 2 different prisons: Albion in Western New York and Shawangunk within the Hudson Valley.

Manufacturing continued till October 2020 — properly after the speedy hand sanitizer scarcity was abated.

Then the issue arose: What to do with backlog of hand sanitizer?

First, it was saved indoors on the New York State Fairgrounds close to Syracuse. However then hearth officers realized the hazard of the stockpile: It was extremely flammable and couldn’t be saved indoors.

“It’s a hazardous waste, however it’s flammable,” Aga mentioned. “Your greatest enemy right here is hearth.”

The hand sanitizer, state officers verify, was shipped in early 2021 by a whole lot of truckloads to the Oriskany web site. It has sat exterior and largely out of sight, positioned behind the Oneida County Sheriff’s Workplace and subsequent to the county workplace constructing, a current go to by POLITICO to the stockpile discovered.

It was no straightforward process to make the transfer: A wide range of state businesses, together with members of the New York Nationwide Guard, assisted within the relocation in the course of the upstate New York winter — unloading the pallets and protecting them in blue tarps.

“As a result of amount of this flammable materials, it’s most safely saved open air and the situation gives the required area to take action,” the state Homeland Safety division mentioned in response to questions from POLITICO.

The state didn’t supply any specifics on how a lot it’ll in the end price to incinerate the hand sanitzer, which frequently has a two-year shelf life earlier than it begins to lose its efficiency.

And it will probably nonetheless be ordered. There’s a request form online to get some despatched.

“Whereas NYS Clear remains to be obtainable without spending a dime to native governments, upon request, the State is working via the method of safely disposing of the fabric,” the state company mentioned.