EPA Answers Questions Regarding Hoosick Falls Superfund Status

hoosick falls superfund

LUCAS WILLARD / WAMC

The Environmental Protection Agency’s Walter Mugdan spoke to Hoosick Falls residents for two hours last week, answering questions and explaining the Federal Superfund program as the agency considers the village for Superfund status.

Mugdan, Director of the EPA Region 2’s Emergency and Remedial Response Division, stated how the factory linked to the area’s PFOA contamination is being considered for the Superfund National Priorities List of the country’s most hazardous waste sites.

PFOA is used to make Teflon, which was used at the village’s Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics factory and is considered the source of the contamination.

If placed on the Superfund list, Hoosick Falls would be a part of 1,700 high-priority cleanups.

In January, New York State gave Superfund status to Saint-Gobain’s McCaffrey Street factory. According to Assistant Division Director for the State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Division of Environmental Remediation, Michael Ryan, the state would have additional options to take action against Saint-Gobain if the federal government also granted Superfund status.

“So right now we’re working cooperatively with the potentially responsible parties towards the investigation and cleanup. Should there be any hesitation on their part, if the site is listed on the NPL, EPA will be there with their resources, their legal resources to help back us up,” said Ryan.

A year since the contamination was widely announced to the public and more than two years since elevated PFOA levels were first detected, village Mayor David Borge said many unanswered questions were answered by Walter Mugdan last week.

A 60-day comment period on the proposal to add Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics to the Superfund National Priorities List closes November 8th.

Read more here.


New Filters to be Installed in Hoosick Falls by December

Hoosick Falls PFOA

Bennington Banner

Officials say that two new permanent filters will be installed at the Hoosick Falls water treatment plant by the winter, replacing the temporary filters that were installed in February.

According to Mayor David Borge, the new system which is larger than the temporary system is expected to be completed by the end of December.

Saint-Gobain is funding the new treatment system, along with the associated upgrades to the water treatment plant. The estimated cost is between $2.5 and $3 million.

The temporary granulated activated carbon (GAC) filtration system that had been installed to remove PFOA was also funded by Saint-Gobain.

Read the full story here.


Stop in Water Deliveries Concerns Hoosick Falls Residents

Residents of Hoosick Falls are reporting that they have not received some water deliveries since Saint Gobain took over the responsibility to distribute bottled water to those in need.

Some residents are furious as to why they were cut off from a water delivery list.

“My question is who made the judgment in the first place that I was not to receive any more water and why?” a Hoosick Falls resident said.

The church organization, HACA, sent out a letter during the week of September 4th notifying people that Saint Gobain would be taking over water distribution as the consent order between State DEC and the company had declared.

One resident claims that she has not received any water in three weeks. Another Hoosick Falls woman, who recently suffered two strokes and has arthritis, also stopped receiving water deliveries.

The consent order states that Saint Gobain will provide bottled water to the elderly and ill residents of Hoosick Falls after a request has been approved by the village clerk.

Residents are reluctant to provide medical information to justify receiving water deliveries as it invades their privacy.

Mayor Dave Borge addressed the issue in a statement on Friday:

 “Some were removed from the delivery list because it was determined that they were not elderly or infirm. As far as I know, the Village received one complaint from a resident regarding the water deliveries. Once the Village became aware of the individual’s interest in continuing to receive water deliveries, she was placed back on the delivery list.”

Read the full story here.


Senator Gillibrand Calls for Public Health Assessment in Hoosick Falls

Senator GillibrandThis week, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand pushed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct a public health assessment of Hoosick Falls and nearby areas as soon as possible.

This assessment would make way for the development of a public health action plan to address the water contamination in the town caused by PFOA exposure at the Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics site.

In a letter to the CDC, Gillibrand stated how, “studies indicate that exposure to PFOA over certain levels may result in adverse health effects, including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, kidney cancer, testicular cancer, liver damage, low birth weight, immune system impacts, and other serious health effects.”

She stressed the importance of more research in order to better understand these health effects and to, ” clarify and expand upon current research findings.”

Read the full article here.


EPA Proposes Adding Saint-Gobain Site in Hoosick to Federal Superfund List

The EPA announced its proposal today to add the Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics site in Hoosick Falls, N.Y. to its Superfund National Priorities List of the country’s most hazardous waste sites.

The Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics facility is located at 14 McCaffrey Street and its groundwater has been contaminated with Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) and Trichloroethylene. The village’s public water supply has also been found to be contaminated with PFOA.

“By placing this site on the federal Superfund list, the EPA will continue to work hard to address the contamination at the source, and hold the polluters accountable for the full cost of cleanup,” said Judith A. Enck, EPA Regional Administrator.

  • In January 2016, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation added the Saint-Gobain site to the state’s Superfund list and nominated the site for inclusion in the federal Superfund list.
  • In April 2016, the EPA installed groundwater monitoring wells near the Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics facility.
  • In early May 2016, the EPA conducted groundwater sampling at and around the Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics facility.
  • In mid-May, the EPA conducted drinking water sampling at drinking water wells used by the Village of Hoosick Falls.
  • After testing in Hoosick Falls, the EPA determined that inclusion in the federal Superfund program was an effective course of action to address the contamination.

After this proposal of inclusion to the National Priorities List, a 60-day comment period will begin in which the EPA will accept public comments until November 10th.

Following the comment period, designation to the National Priorities List will make the site eligible for funds to conduct long-term cleanup.

The Superfund program allows the EPA to search for the polluters legally responsible for contaminating a site and holds them accountable for cleanup costs, rather than pushing costs onto taxpayers.

Read the EPA’s complete news release here.


Hoosick Falls Water Contamination Hearings Begin

A State Senate committee held a daylong hearing in Hoosick Falls this week to address the PFOA water contamination issue that has been affecting residents for months.

Michael Hickey, a Hoosick Falls lifelong resident who was one of the first to bring attention to the town’s contaminated water, spoke at the hearing about how he discovered a connection between the death of his father from kidney cancer and the toxic chemical Teflon.

Hoosick Falls water contamination

Nathaniel Brooks for The New York Times

“All I typed in was Teflon and cancer, because that’s what was in the factory that was in Hoosick Falls where my father worked,” stated Hickey at the Tuesday hearing.

Although it only took Hickey “about five minutes,” it took government officials much longer to notice the contamination, or to take action.

Only in recent months has the gravity of this issue come to light as researchers found that the town’s public water supply was tainted with high levels of perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, which is used in several products as well as in the production of Teflon.

State officials have identified the source of the contamination as the Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics plant.

Several nearby towns in New York as well as in Vermont have also reported high levels of PFOA since then.

Dr. Marcus Martinez, a local physician, had also testified alongside Hickey stating he had long noted what he believed to be unusually high rates of cancer in the village. He said that he and Hickey had brought their concerns, as well as test results, to the attention of village and state officials in 2014, but had been disappointed by a lack of action.

“I do believe our citizens were advised incorrectly to consume water that was unsafe for at least for 12 months,” Dr. Martinez said.

Read the full article in the New York Times.


Hoosick Falls & Petersburgh Landfills Declared Potential State Superfund Sites

Department_of_Environmental_ConservationThe New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced this week that the municipal landfills in Hoosick Falls and Towns of Petersburgh and Berlin have been declared Potential State Superfund Sites.

These sites became eligible for potential placement on the State Superfund Site Registry after preliminary investigations discovered that the sites may contain PFOA, a chemical listed as a hazardous chemical by New York State.

Further investigation will look for evidence of hazardous waste disposed at the landfills and any resulting contamination that may pose a threat to public health or the environment.

“DEC remains committed to ensuring a comprehensive clean-up of the contamination in these communities,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “Identifying these two landfills as P-sites is the next step in the state’s ongoing response to provide residents in these affected communities the information and protection they deserve.”

PFOA is believed to have been disposed at both landfills.

Monitoring wells at the Hoosick Falls site were found to contain concentrations of up to 21,000 parts per trillion (ppt) of PFOA, and samples at the Petersburgh/Berlin site were found to contain concentrations up to 4,200 ppt of PFOA.

The State Superfund Program allows the state to launch investigations of the contamination and hold the parties responsible accountable for the remediation of these sites.

The DEC will work to identify potentially responsible parties that disposed of hazardous wastes and hold them accountable for costs associated with the investigation and remediation.

View the DEC’s letters to the towns here:

Letter to Hoosick Falls Officials

Letter to Petersburgh and Berlin Officials


More Health Harms from PFOA Found

New studies have came out recently that show more harmful effects of PFOA exposure on mothers and their children.

Four studies that have been conducted by Harvard researchers and other leading journals to look into highly fluorinated chemicals such as PFOA.

“These chemicals have some of the strongest bonds in the periodic table, and they basically never break down, so they stay around for millions of years,” said Arlene Blum from the University of California, Berkeley-based Green Science Policy Institute.

Several kinds of cancer, high cholesterol and obesity are some of the harmful health effects associated with PFOA exposure.

It was also found that young children who are exposed to the chemical PFOA have a reduced immune response to vaccinations. Furthermore, as children grow older, they may experience other problems such as more colds and upset stomachs.

Another study discovered that women who had high levels of PFOA in their blood were not able to breastfeed as long as other women.

Learn more here.

Attorneys Stephen Schwarz and Hadley Matarazzo at Faraci Lange, as well as Robin Greenwald at Weitz & Luxenberg, represent the plaintiffs as co-lead counsel in the Hoosick Falls lawsuit.

Senate to Hold PFOA Water Contamination Hearing in Hoosick Falls

The State Senate will be holding a hearing regarding the PFOA water contamination in Hoosick Falls on August 30th.

The hearing will be held at Hoosick Falls High School by the Senate Health and Environmental Conservation committees chaired by Senators Kemp Hannon and Tom O’Mara.

Experts from various agencies including the EPA, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, and the Department of Health will be present at the hearing.

These experts will shed light on the factors that may have caused the slow response to PFOA contamination in Hoosick Falls’ water supply, such as the possibility of overlapping jurisdictions, lack of communication, or perhaps sheer negligence.

The second part of the hearing will allow the Senators to hear directly prom the public. People who would like to speak can sign up in advance and testify during the afternoon. Committees will allow Hoosick Falls residents to testify on a first-come first-serve basis after 5 PM.

Learn more here.


NYS Updates Hoosick Falls Residents on Blood Tests

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Department of Health held a meeting last week to provide Hoosick Falls’ residents with a status update on the PFOA water contamination in the town.

Hoosick Falls PFOA contaminationAfter conducting almost three thousand blood tests in Hoosick Falls, the exposure of the contamination is more clear.

It was found that individuals who use Hoosick Falls village water have, “30 times the amount of PFOA in their blood than the average American.”

It can take anywhere between two to four years for PFOA levels to decrease in the blood system by half.

Those affected are advised to contact a physician after receiving their blood test results as many of the potential side effects of PFOA exposure are treatable.

Read the full story here.