Cleanup of Hoosick Falls Contamination Site To Begin in Spring

Hoosick Falls Superfund SiteThe New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) announced this week that cleanup of the Hoosick Falls Superfund site, which has been central in the village’s PFOA water contamination, will begin this spring.

Saint-Gobain Corporation and Honeywell International, Inc., the two companies being held liable for the contamination, are responsible for the environmental cleanup work at the project site located at 14 McCaffrey Street in Hoosick Falls.

The environmental cleanup action will be performed as an Interim Remedial Measure (IRM) under New York’s State Superfund Program and the provisions of an Order on Consent established between the responsible parties and the NYSDEC.

“An IRM is a cleanup activity that may be taken to prevent, mitigate or remedy contamination attributed to a site prior to the full characterization of the nature and extent of contamination. The objective of this IRM is to prevent continued migration of onsite perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) from the McCaffrey Street project site toward the Village of Hoosick Falls’ municipal water supply wellfield,” the DEC said in a press release.

The IRM plans include the installation of Granular Activated Carbon filtration vessels that will treat extracted groundwater and remove PFOA contamination.

The cleanup process, which will be overseen by the NYSDEC and State Health Department, is said to begin as early as May. Site preparation work is estimated to begin in June and the final installation and testing of the remediation effort should take place this summer.

More details of the Interim Remedial Measure plans can be found here.


Reports Claim EPA Refuses to Limit Water Contaminants

It was reported earlier this week that the Environmental Protection Agency has decided not to establish limits for PFOA and PFOS in drinking water, causing outrage among advocates for clean water in Upstate New York.

Toxic chemicals such as PFOA and PFOS have contaminated the drinking water in Hoosick Falls and Petersbugh in the Rensselaer County of New York.

In a letter written to Andrew Wheeler, the acting administrator of the EPA, Rep. Antonio Delgado stated, “many of my constituents have lost loved ones or suffer themselves from the adverse effects of PFAS water contamination.”

“Americans have a right to know how much, if any, of this chemical is in their drinking water,” Delgado said. “They have a right to be informed if the problem is getting worse, and they should be able to trust that federal regulators will work to ensure that their communities are safe.”

The EPA has been supporting the Trump administration’s efforts to reduce regulation of chemicals and other environmental hazards in favor of industries.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., met with Wheeler on Wednesday to discuss the issue, but was not satisfied with the answers that were provided. Gillibrand claims that she will be voting against Wheeler’s confirmation as EPA administrator.

“If the administration truly refuses to act, Congress will need to step in to deliver the safe drinking water standards the American people need and deserve,” U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko said in a statement.

The EPA had claimed it would issue a management plan for PFOA and PFOS by Fall of 2018, but has yet to do so. The possibility of it not including a cap on the hazardous chemicals has further caused an issue for environmental advocates and residents of the affected communities.

The N.Y. Water Project, formed by Hoosick Fall Residents, issued a statement on the matter as well.

“When the EPA came to Hoosick Falls, we were told again and again that tackling PFOA was a top priority. But it turns out this was all an act. By refusing to set a limit on PFOA and PFOS in drinking water, Trump’s EPA has hung human health out to dry.”

Click here to read more.


Nation’s Toughest Standards Proposed by NYS Drinking Water Quality Council

New York State may now have the toughest standards in the nation for drinking water after the state’s Drinking Water Quality Council recommended maximum contaminant levels for toxic chemicals that have been linked to cancer and other health risks.

The New York State Drinking Water Quality Council met on Tuesday to discuss maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) for PFOA, PFOS and 1,4-Dioxane, which were found to have contaminated the drinking water in Hoosick Falls, Petersburgh and other communities.

The council voted to recommend a MCL of 10 parts per trillion for PFOA and PFOS, as well as a MCL of 1 part per billion for 1,4-Dioxane.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s current health advisory is at 70 parts per trillion for PFOA and PFOS. A MCL of 7 parts per trillion was recommended by the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry in June.

Rob Hayes from the Environmental Advocates of New York group stated, “the science has been very clear that low maximum contaminant levels are necessary to protect our most vulnerable populations from the negative health impacts of these chemicals, especially pregnant women and children.”

This recommendation comes after tireless advocacy by residents who have been impacted by contamination in towns such as Hoosick Falls and Petersburgh.

“It has been more than three years since the water crisis in Hoosick Falls came to light. And the council made a promise to these residents that they were going to protect drinking water for all New Yorkers.”

Now that the council has established their MCL recommendations, the Commissioner of Health will consider the recommendations and, ultimately, will be voted on by the Public Health and Health Planning Council.

Click here to learn more.


Legislators Urge Department of Health to Impose Maximum Contaminant Levels

PFOA water contaminationNew York State legislators Ellen Jaffee and Liz Krueger have called on the Department of Health to impose the maximum allowable amounts of PFOA, PFOS and 1,4-dioxane in drinking water.

Separate letters were sent to Howard Zucker, the DOH’s Commissioner, by the three legislators asking for mandatory levels of 4 parts per trillion for PFOA and PFOS and 0.3 parts per billion for 1,4-dioxane.

Ellen Jaffee, a Rockland County Democrat, wrote that the Drinking Water Quality Council had failed to be, “the champion for clean water that New York needs.”

The Drinking Water Quality Council, which was created in September 2017 and consists of twelve members, was given the responsibility to make recommendations for maximum contamination levels for PFOA, PFOS and 1,4-dioxane in drinking water by the end of September, which they were unable to do.

“New Yorkers cannot wait any longer to have their drinking water protected from these dangerous chemicals,” wrote Liz Krueger, a Manhattan Democrat.

“To meet this important goal, DOH must take immediate action to establish MCLs for these chemicals,” she wrote. “Your leadership will be of critical importance to ensure that when New Yorkers turn on their taps, they can rest assured that their water is clean and safe to drink.”

Click here to read the letters written to the Department of Health.


New Study Finds PFOA Contamination May Have Spread Through Air

PFOA contaminationIn a recent study, a team of faculty and student researchers at Bennington College discovered elevated levels of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) in soil samples stretching a 120 square mile area east of the ChemFab plant in North Bennington, Vermont.

ChemFab was previously owned by Saint Gobain, the manufacturing company accountable for contaminating the groundwater in Hoosick Falls.

A consent order with Vermont had only identified around 12 square miles of contaminated land and Saint Gobain claimed that their PFOA emissions were limited to only the nearby neighborhoods.

The study brings to light the discovery of elevated PFOA levels in soil located downwind of the Saint Gobain facilities, including the Hoosick Falls plant.

“The pattern in soil seem fairly clear,” said David Bond, a Bennington College professor involved in the study. “They all point back to the Saint-Gobain plants in North Bennington and Hoosick Falls.”

“Our research suggests Saint-Gobain has been insisting on a microscopic view of a wide angle problem. When you zoom out, you begin to see just how extensive PFOA contamination may actually be,” Bond added.

Click here to read more.


PFOA Contamination Study Begins In Petersburgh Taconic Plant

More than two years after the Taconic Plastics plant in Petersburgh, New York first alerted the state of concerns about contamination around its Route 22 facility, the company is beginning an in-depth investigation into the extent of PFOA contamination in the area.

Taconic will commence with doing soil tests and installing groundwater wells in order to study the actual extent of PFOA, or perfluorooctanoic acid, contamination.

Following the discovery of PFOA contamination in the Village of Hoosick Falls’ water supply in 2016, Taconic approached the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and Health Department regarding previous PFOA contamination at its Petersburgh facility.

Due to major concerns about the negative health effects this PFOA contamination might cause for residents in the years to come, Taconic signed a consent order with New York State requiring the installation of a filtration system on Petersburgh’s municipal water plant. Testing and filtration systems on private wells in the area were also mandated.

In addition, Taconic was required to investigate the scope of the contamination to see how much of the surrounding area had been affected, and to look into ways of remediation.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation recently announced that a report detailing the investigation’s discoveries will be released in 2019.

The DEC stated in its announcement that, “the information collected during the site investigation may also support the conclusion that no action, or no further action, is needed to address site-related contamination.”

There is currently an ongoing class action lawsuit against Taconic that has been filed by Petersburgh residents.

Read the full article here.


Hoosick Falls Votes to Accept Reimbursement from Companies Responsible for PFOA Contamination

Hoosick Falls PFOA contaminationOn Tuesday night, the Hoosick Falls Village Board unanimously voted to accept a $330,250 reimbursement from Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics and Honeywell International for costs to run and maintain the filtration system put in place after the village’s water supply was contaminated with PFOA.

This resolution is not a settlement agreement and so it does not exempt the companies from any future costs and damages.

It’s a huge help to our immediate cash flow. But there are no strings attached. It does not release them from suing them in the future,” stated Hoosick Falls Mayor Robert Allen.

According to Village calculations, Hoosick Falls has spent $707,392.62 due to the chemical PFOA contaminating their water supply. Mayor Allen stresses that they will continue to fight for complete reimbursement from the companies deemed responsible for the contamination.

The filtration system has been in place since 2016 and was paid for by Saint-Gobain and Honeywell. Since then, the energy and labor costs to run and maintain the system have been incurred by the Village.

In a statement, Saint-Gobain’s director of communications Dina Pokedoff said, “Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics and Honeywell have been in continuous dialogue with this administration, as well as the previous administration, to provide reimbursements to the village for the costs it incurred regarding the treatment systems that ensure village residents have access to potable drinking water.”

This resolution has come one year after the Hoosick Falls Village Board voted to reject a $1 million partial settlement agreement with Saint-Gobain and Honeywell due to widespread community opposition.

Read the full story here.


New Water Quality Council Established and Ready to Address PFOA

Twelve members of a new state Drinking Water Quality Council have been named, preparing the group to hold its first official meeting on October 2nd.

Governor Andrew Cuomo named his four designated council members on Friday. He also announced that the first task of the council will be to recommend maximum contaminant levels for PFOA, among other harmful chemicals.

The council is obligated to return its list of recommended maximum contaminant levels by October 2nd, 2018. The list would then be updated if needed on an annual basis.

“New York is once again stepping up as the federal government continues to ignore its duty to provide clear guidance to protect drinking water quality… Water quality is a national issue that requires consistent national standards, but New York can no longer afford to wait,” stated Governor Cuomo.

Members of the Drinking Water Quality Council include state Health Commissioner Howard Zucker and his designee Deputy Commissioner Brad Hutton, as well as state Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos with his designee Executive Deputy Commissioner Ken Lynch.

Four of the council’s members were recommended by New York State Senate and Assembly leaders, while the other four were designated by Governor Cuomo.

Read the full article here.


EPA Adds Saint-Gobain Site to Federal Superfund Clean-Up List

Hoosick Falls EPAThe United States Environmental Protection Agency announced in a news release this week that it has added the Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics site in the Village of Hoosick Falls to the Federal Superfund National Priorities List, which includes the nation’s most hazardous waste sites.

The agency’s decision will allow federal resources to be used to clean areas of Hoosick Falls that have been contaminated with PFOA and ensure that the health of village residents is protected.

The EPA’s designation will also allow the federal government to seek reimbursement from the companies that are responsible for the village’s contamination.

New York State Senator Charles Schumer stated, “I am glad that EPA has heeded our call to add this site to the Superfund list because it gives the EPA leverage to make the polluters pay and to set a protocol for investigation and clean-up.”

Since PFOA contamination was discovered in Hoosick Falls, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and Department of Health, along with the EPA, have taken several steps to address the issue:

  • In January 2016, the NYSDEC added the Saint-Gobain site to New York State’s Superfund list and requested that the EPA include the site on EPA’s federal Superfund list.
  • In April and May 2016, the EPA installed monitoring wells to sample groundwater at and around the Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics facility (McCaffrey Street facility) and sampled the Village water supply wells. The EPA also collected soil samples from the McCaffrey Street facility, Village ballfields and recreational areas.
  • In June 2016, the NYSDEC entered into a legal agreement with Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corporation and Honeywell International Inc. and initiated a study of the nature and extent of contamination at the site.
  • In September 2016, the EPA proposed adding the Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics site to the federal Superfund list.

Faraci Lange attorneys, Stephen Schwarz and Hadley Matarazzo, are representing residents of Hoosick Falls in a lawsuit against Saint-Gobain and Honeywell International for the PFOA contamination their manufacturing plants caused.

“To the extent that it makes more resources available to the community to address the problem, we’re happy to see that happen, Hadley stated to the New York Law Journal.


500 Days of PFOA Contamination Raises Pressure to Find New Source of Water

Last week marked the completion of 500 days of water contamination in Hoosick Falls with the chemical PFOA.

The Environmental Advocates of New York organized residents of Hoosick Falls to gather at the state capitol in Albany on Thursday to demand state leaders to find an uncontaminated source of drinking water for the community.

Advocates demand that the $2.5 billion clean water fund recently created in the state budget be used to restore clean water to Hoosick Falls immediately.

Currently, residents of Hoosick Falls are using filtered water from the treatment systems that have been put into place by the state to remove PFOA from the contaminated groundwater. However, residents are still afraid of the potential effects consuming the filtered water may have.

“We want to see a long-term solution to this where we’re providing clean water uncontaminated with PFOA to the village. But certainly, in the interim, we’re making sure this treatment system is 100 percent effective,” stated DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos.

The DEC will soon announce the results of a feasibility study conducted to locate a new water source. Saint-Gobain and Honeywell were ordered by the state to execute this study.

“We’re looking at a few spots in the valley where enough water is being produced, at least water quality is good in a couple different wells that have been drilled. And we’re doing continual tests on that to make sure there’s enough water pressure and capacity,” said Seggos.

Read the full story here.