Groundwater sampling from the Saint Gobain Performance Plastics manufacturing plant on McCaffery Street recorded PFOA levels at 130,000 parts per trillion. This is seven times higher than what was reported three years ago.
Saint Gobain’s Liberty Street site and Honeywell International’s John Street sites were also tested and both were found to be sources of contamination, according to Department of Environmental Conservation officials.
DEC Commissioner, Basil Seggos, states that the discrepancy in test results are due to having a limited number of samplings available in previous reports.
The test samplings included groundwater, soil and sediment, and others. Further investigation will determine the extent of the contamination, what elements are impacted and how widespread the contamination truly is.
Over 100 Village residents were present at the Hoosick Falls Center School to hear the results of the PFOA testing and learn what the next steps would be.
New York State officials, as well as Saint Gobain and Honeywell International representatives, spoke to residents and invited them to ask questions.
State officials also revealed additional sites that will be investigated further as possible sources of contamination, including the Hoosick Falls Landfill, the former Oak-Mitsui on First Street and Allied-Signal Laminate Systems on Mechanic Street.
An initial alternative water supply evaluation is expected to be completed by the fall. Residents will be given the opportunity to review and comment on the proposed plan.
The Daily Gazette recently published an editorial elaborating on the lack of scope of the New York State Department of Health’s cancer study that investigated the impact Hoosick Falls’ PFOA water contamination had on residents’ health.
The study found that there were no elevated incidences of cancer among village residents due to the long term exposure of PFOA.
In the opinion of many, the study provides an incomplete and potentially inaccurate image of the effects of PFOA on Hoosick Falls residents.
For one, the investigation only took into account data from the state’s cancer registry of people residing in the Village of Hoosick Falls.
This left out people living in the surrounding town of Hoosick Falls, where more than 100 wells were contaminated with PFOA. This also excluded the town residents who get their water from the village’s municipal supply.
Additionally, the study also failed to include data from people who had previously lived in the contamination area but have since moved out.
Another factor was the length of the study. The investigation studied data from 1995, which is about 22 years. The contamination, however, is said to go back about 40 years.
The report also had a lack of transparency, with the names of the researchers and peer reviewers being unidentified. This makes it more difficult for the public to evaluate the qualifications of the people behind the study.
A community meeting was held in Hoosick Falls last week to address questions regarding the New York State Department of Health cancer study that was recently released.
The study, which investigates the effect of PFOA exposure on cancer rates in the Village of Hoosick Falls, was criticized by many for its narrow scope. Shortly after its release, residents gathered at the Hoosick Falls Armory for answers.
“Nobody is being held accountable. Nobody has even apologized for dumping toxins in the water,” said Barbara Burch, who previously lived in Hoosick Falls with her family but now resides in Petersburg.
Burch and her family have been consuming water contaminated with PFOA for over 20 years, after which her husband died from cancer.
“…nobody contacted me about his results or what happened to him,” stated Burch, feeling frustrated that her husband’s results were left out from the study.
Mayor Rob Allen was also present at the meeting and wanted the community to know that the Department of Health would be accessible to answer any questions.
“We spent a lot of time explaining what our study didn’t do…Our study does not dismiss or diminish the very valid concerns that residents have,” said Department of Health Deputy Commissioner for Public Health Brad Hutton.
More meetings will be scheduled in Hoosick Falls by the Department of Health for anyone who still has questions.
The Department of Health studied data from New York State’s Cancer Registry between the dates of January 1995 through December 2014 to analyze cancers diagnosed among residents of Hoosick Falls.
The investigation reported lower rates of certain types of cancer that have been linked to long-term PFOA exposure, including kidney, thyroid and testicular cancers.
A significantly elevated rate of lung cancer, which has not been linked to PFOA exposure, was however reported. There were 91 cases of lung cancer found during the study period – much higher than the expected rate of 65 cases for a population of this size.
Critics found the investigation to be flawed as it did not take into account the Hoosick Falls residents who were diagnosed with cancer after moving away from the village.
The report also fails to indicate whether cancer rates were specifically reviewed among individuals whose blood contained elevated levels of PFOA.
“The purpose of the investigation was to determine whether village residents who consumed contaminated water had increased rates of cancer relative to the rest of the state,” stated deputy commissioner for public health Brad Hutton.
Residents who live in the town of Hoosick surrounding the village were also not included in the study. The Department of Health stated that it limited its investigation to village residents since their level of exposure to PFOA was consistent.
Additionally, the study was limited to cancer and ignored other health conditions that have been linked to high exposure of PFOA, such as preeclampsia, colitis, thyroid disease, high cholesterol and respiratory problems.
The New York State Senate approved legislation yesterday that will allow the Village of Hoosick Falls to issue bonds for up to $1.5 million to help cover the costs related to cleaning up the town’s PFOA water contamination.
The bill, which passed 60-2, will allow the village to issue bonds through the end of this year for cleanup costs and fees related to negotiating a settlement agreement with the responsible companies.
Hoosick Falls is also authorized to levy annual property taxes in order to pay for the annual debt service on the bonds, which can also be paid through water or sewage charges.
The village will have ten years to pay back bonds.
“We just needed some initial breathing room right now and in the near future so we can get things situated and work towards working on something with the companies,” stated village Mayor Rob Allen.
Mayor Allen explains that if a settlement agreement is reached with the polluters, that money will be used to pay the debt service as well as other expenses.
Unpaid expenses for testing, improvement, legal work, engineering and public relations services are reaching $1 million. However, Mayor Allen says the village is not planning to bond for the entire $1.5 million approves.
Next, the Bill will head to the Assembly for approval.
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.
The state Environmental Facilities Corporation has granted $220,000 to the village of Hoosick Falls for engineering and other expenses related to the toxic PFOA contamination in the town’s water supply.
According to the office of Governor Andrew Cuomo, the grant money would need to be repaid only if the village comes to a settlement with the two companies held responsible for the pollution and are reimbursed for the contamination costs.
Richard Azzopardi, a spokesman for Cuomo, stated that, “This funding will help the village as they continue to seek a fair monetary settlement with the polluters and hold them accountable for their actions…A great deal of progress has been made, but there is more work to be done, and this funding is simply one more way to support the village as they move forward.”
Earlier this week, the state Senate Finance Committee voted unanimously on a bill that would allow Hoosick Falls to to issue bonds to help cover additional contamination-related costs.
The legislation will be voted on by the complete Senate in the coming days.
Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics and Honeywell International, the two companies held responsible for the PFOA water contamination in Hoosick Falls, offered a revised settlement this week that would pay over $1 million to the village.
This is an increase from the previous offer of $850,000 that was met with a great deal of criticism from village residents at a public meeting held to discuss the agreement last month.
The new agreement calls for Saint-Gobain and Honeywell to pay the village $1.045 million for the expenses incurred from the PFOA water contamination.
With this settlement agreement, the village would have to agree to not filing claims against the two companies for damages to the existing municipal water system.
A press release issued Wednesday states, “the agreement has been revised to ensure the village retains its right to pursue any other claims.”
These other claims could be for costs associated to, “new wells and related equipment, alternative water sources extensions or additions to the existing municipal water supply system, pollution from contaminants other than PFOA, and diminished property values.”
The proposed settlement will be considered at a board meeting being held today at 6 p.m. at the Hoosick Falls Armory.
In a meeting held this week, Honeywell representatives informed residents that there may be another form of pollutant leaking into their drinking water, apart from PFOA chemicals they are already exposed to.
Under a state consent order, Honeywell is conducting an investigation into the detection of chemicals at the site of the company’s former building in Hoosick Falls.
The type of pollutant in question is called volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. Prior to this investigation, chemicals known as TCE and 111-TCA were found at the John Street Honeywell location.
Honeywell is now asking permission from Hoosick Falls residents to test their homes for VOCs, as directed by the consent order with the New York State Department of Health and Environmental Conservation.
39 properties surrounding the area of Honeywell’s former facility will be investigated, according to the company’s Global Remediation Director, John Morris.
At the meeting held this week, Morris explained to town residents that VOCs enter homes through vapors released from contaminated groundwater. Basements and living rooms will be tested in the specified homes.
TCE is a known carcinogen, according to the Department of Health. It can affect the central nervous system, liver, kidneys, reproductive and immune systems, and may also cause birth defects.