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.


Leak Forces Petersburgh to Switch Water System to High PFOA-Level Well

Petersburgh PFOA water contaminationOn August 8th the Rensselaer County Department of Health released a statement to the Town of Petersburgh residents that a leak had been identified in the water system that required the activation of Well #2, a well that tested above the federal PFOA advisory level of 70 parts per trillion.

The EPA had recently established a health advisory level of 70 parts per trillion for PFOA.

Consequently, residents were advised by the county and state Departments of Health to continue to, or in some cases revert back to, using bottled water for drinking, cooking, and preparing baby formula.

Bottled water has been made available at the Petersburgh Town Hall while the Departments of Health “work with the Town to correct this situation including the installation of a permanent water treatment system for the municipal supply.”

Read the full article here.

Residents of Petersburgh and other communities who may be impacted by PFOA water contamination are encouraged to contact us to learn more about how we can help.

Faraci Lange Attorneys Named Interim Class Counsel in Hoosick Falls Lawsuit

Hoosick Falls water contamination LawsuitThe United States District Court for the Northern District of New York issued an order today appointing the Law Firms of Faraci Lange and Weitz & Luxenberg as Co-Lead Interim Class Counsel in the Hoosick Falls water contamination lawsuit.

The order also granted requests to consolidate four similar claims alleging that Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics and Honeywell International caused the groundwater in Hoosick Falls to be contaminated with the hazardous chemical, PFOA.

Plaintiffs claim that the contamination caused residents to be subjected to numerous health issues as well as devaluation of their property in the area.

After considering several competing proposals for appointment of interim class counsel, the court decided in favor of the Faraci Lage and Weitz & Luxenberg group, citing their, “…extensive experience in mass tort litigation in general, as well as specific experience in water contamination class actions in New York State.”

The order also noted the active involvement of both law firms in identifying and investigating potential claims since the earliest possible stage of the contamination in Hoosick Falls, as well as “conducting meetings, advising residents, and consulting with experts.”

Faraci Lange and Weitz & Luxenberg has met with over 1000 residents and has been retained by approximately 700 clients at the time of the Court’s initial hearing in June.

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.

Read the court’s decision here.

Man Credited with Discovering PFOA in Hoosick Falls Files Lawsuit

Lawsuit Filed Hoosick FallsMichael Hickey, the man who was credited to have discovered the toxic chemical PFOA in the water supply of Hoosick Falls two years ago, filed a federal class-action lawsuit this week.

The lawsuit, which Hickey filed on behalf of himself and his son, targets manufacturing plants Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics and Honeywell International as the potential cause of the contamination.

Hickey states that his concern of any future health effects caused by their consumption of the PFOA-tainted water for years lead him to pursue this claim.

The lawsuit has been filed in the U.S. District Court in Albany and is one of several lawsuits filed this year on behalf of Hoosick Falls residents. Some allege that they may have developed serious health issues due to the PFOA exposure.

Hickey began looking into the village’s water two years ago when he noticed an unusually high rate of cancer among the community residents. This is when he detected an elevated level of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a harmful man-made chemical, in the public drinking-water supply.

The complaint was filed on behalf of Hickey by Stephen G. Schwarz and Hadley L. Matarazzo of Faraci Lange LLP, Gerald J. Williams, Esther E. Berezofsky and Michael J. Quirk of Williams Cuker & Berezofsky, and Eric Chaffin and Roopal P. Luhana of Chaffin Luhana LLP.

Read the full story here.


Water Filters Installed in Private Wells Labeled Not Safe for Consumption in Hoosick Falls

A Department of Environmental Conservation contractor recently installed filters in private wells in Hoosick Falls that were intended to eliminate PFOA, which is a chemical linked to causing cancer. However, these filters were labeled with a warning, saying the product is known “to cause cancer and birth defects.”

In addition, the label states that the water filter is illegal to use in the United States for human consumption, which is the main purpose of the private wells in Hoosick Falls.

Hoosick Falls Water Filter

The Department of Environmental Conservation made the following statement regarding this error:

“A supplier incorrectly shipped one box of valves that are not to be used with drinking water to a contractor. Immediately upon discovery late last night, DEC began tracking down the incorrect valves so they can be replaced. DEC terminated the companies responsible for the error. However, homeowners still continue to be advised not to drink or use water from the filtration systems until the state advises them that it is acceptable for all uses, so these systems were not used.”

The DEC also stated that it is unsure of how many incorrect water filters were installed.

If you have had a filter installed recently, please check the label to make sure it is not marked unsafe for consumption.

Read the full article here.


Residents of Hoosick Falls and other communities who believe they may have been impacted by the PFOA water contamination are encouraged to submit a contact form.


Company That May Have Contaminated Hoosick Falls Water Supply Hires Top Lobbying Firm

perf_plastSaint-Gobain, the French company that has made Teflon-coated materials at a plant in the village of Hoosick Falls for decades, has retained a top lobbying firm as it braces for federal and state investigations and the possibility of enormous cleanup and legal costs for the contamination it may have caused in the village’s water supply.

Cozen O’Connor, which is the firm that Saint-Gobain has hired, already has its lobbyists beginning to reach out to federal elected officials in the state. Kenneth Fisher, a former New York City councilman, and Stuart Shorenstein are working with the company.

Spokeswoman Dina Pokedoff denied that Saint-Gobain was increasing its lobbying amid theHoosick Falls water contamination situation.

How exactly Hoosick Falls’ water supply became contaminated with industrial chemicals has not yet been determined. The Environmental Protection Agency is investigating and Governor Cuomo’s administration has declared that it will designate it a Superfund site, which could leave whoever was responsible liable for cleanup efforts that could cost up to tens of millions.

On Tuesday, Saint-Gobain began installing a temporary facility to treat the water in the village of about 5,000 people. The state Department of Health has signed off on that facility, which will be in place until a permanent system is installed later this year, according to Mayor David Borge. Saint-Gobain will pay more than $300,000 for the temporary system.

“We are hopeful that, once confirmatory testing of the new system demonstrates the safely of the water, EPA will inform the community that it is acceptable to use the water for household purposes,” Borge said in a statement.

The EPA says the Teflon-coated materials that the Saint-Goblin factory produced in the village for decades may have contaminated Hoosick Falls water supply with perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a toxic chemical that is used in non-stick cookware, stain-resistant carpets and packaging and has been linked to cancer.

Read the full article here.

Faraci Lange is currently investigating bringing a lawsuit against one or more companies believed to be responsible for the cancers and other illnesses caused by this PFOA water contamination in Hoosick Falls.

Residents of Hoosick Falls and other communities who believe they may have been impacted are encouraged to contact Stephen G. Schwarz at (585) 325-5150 or to complete a water contamination contact form. You may also contact us here.


Governor Cuomo’s Administration To Declare Hoosick Falls a Superfund Site

hoosick fallsDuring a press conference on Wednesday, Cuomo Administration officials announced that the state will declare the polluted water of Hoosick Falls a Superfund site, allowing the state to investigate the extent of any contamination and to begin remediation immediately.

The Department of Environmental Conservation on Wednesday issued an emergency regulation that will allow the state to list perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which has been linked to cancer and may have polluted the Hoosick Falls water supply, as a hazardous substance.

The Department of Health will initiate a health-risk analysis, install filtration systems at schools and other community gathering places and develop a state telephone hotline for health information, state Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said at the conference. Blood testing of community members will begin in mid-February.

Zucker said the state will also revise the level of PFOA in water that it considers safe. The state currently considers a PFOA level in water safe as long as it is below 50,000 parts per trillion. That number is dramatically above the federal recommendation of 400 parts per trillion. Zucker said the state will set a new level within the next few weeks.

Residents of Hoosick Falls, a Rensselaer County community, first raised questions about the polluted water more than a year ago, when the village began to see elevated levels of unusual types of cancers and other medical conditions consistent with unhealthy PFOA levels. State officials learned about the pollution in late 2014, but did not conduct testing until July 2015, Zucker acknowledged.

Shortly after being informed of the situation this fall, the EPA Region 2 Administrator Judith Enck took prompt action and federal regulators issued the warning about drinking.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and administration officials met with town officials shortly before Wednesday’s press conference.

“These actions will ensure that the source and extent of PFOA contamination is identified, and all necessary steps are taken to swiftly address the chemical’s presence,” Cuomo said in a statement. “My administration is investigating this situation fully, and we will do whatever is necessary to ensure safe, clean drinking water for local residents.”

For decades, the Saint-Gobain factory in Hoosick Falls produced Teflon-coated materials that the EPA says may have polluted the village water supply with PFOA, a toxic chemical that is used in non-stick cookware, stain-resistant carpets and packaging. The EPA is investigating whether that chemical may have seeped into village wells when workers cleaned smokestack filters and other equipment at the factory, which Saint-Gobain has owned since 1999. Other factories in town may also used the chemical and its exact source has not yet been pinpointed.

The state’s inaction for more than a year caused more people to be exposed to PFOA, said Michael Hickey, a town resident who used his own money to discover the PFOA levels in the town’s water. After his father’s death from cancer, Hickey took his own water samples from sources around town and sent them to a lab out of state that confirmed elevated levels of PFOA.

Read the full article here.

Faraci Lange is currently investigating bringing a lawsuit against one or more companies believed to be responsible for the cancers and other illnesses caused by this PFOA water contamination in Hoosick Falls.

Residents of Hoosick Falls and other communities who believe they may have been impacted are encouraged to contact Stephen G. Schwarz at (585) 325-5150 or to complete a water contamination contact form. You may also contact us here.