Last week, the Hoosick Falls Village Board postponed its vote on the proposed settlement of $1.04 million offered by Saint-Gobain and Honeywell over the PFOA contamination of the village’s water supply.
Village officials approved the motion to table with a vote of 6-1, with Mayor David Borge opposing it due to his argument that the town is facing “real financial issues” without the settlement money.
After the vote, Mayor Borge stated that, “Someone is going to give us a check for $1 million, that is not going away…There are 1,900 people in this community that pay taxes. They were not all here tonight…We have a responsibility to look out for everyone in the village, both present and in the future, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Although the settlement would cover Hoosick Falls’ expenses relating to the contamination, it would prevent the village from bringing any future claims against Saint-Gobain and Honeywell.
Judith Enck, a Hoosick Falls community member and former administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency, opposed the settlement offer stating, “This is a really good deal for St. Gobain and a really good deal for Honeywell, but this not the quality document you should be signing on behalf of the residents of Hoosick Falls.”
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.
An agreement with Saint Gobain Performance Plastics and Honeywell International, the two companies being held accountable for the PFOA water contamination in Hoosick Falls, is being considered by the village board.
The agreement, which is estimated to cost the two companies $850 thousand, will reimburse the village of Hoosick Falls for the losses it incurred from decreased water and sewer revenues, in addition to the costs of flushing water pipes.
The village board will consider the agreement at a meeting being held today at 6 p.m. at the Hoosick Falls Senior Center.
Learn more about the proposed agreement on the Hoosick Falls Water Contamination website here.
After discovering that they may not receive grant money from a state agency, Hoosick Falls village officials must now seek other funding sources in order to expand the municipal water system.
According to Mayor David Borge, the proposed project to extend water and sewer to properties with PFOA-contaminated drinking wells will not be eligible for grants unless a new water municipality is formed.
In addition, the project’s Environmental Facilities Corporation ranking was not high enough to qualify it for no-interest loans or grants.
At a Village Board meeting held last week, Mayor Borge said that the village will work with Governor Andrew Cuomo and Senator Kathleen Marchione to look for other sources of funding.
Last week, Rensselaer County legislators unanimously approved a resolution in hopes of speeding up the cleanup process of the site identified as the source of PFOA contamination in Hoosick Falls.
The resolution was suggested by the Legislature’s chairman, Stan Brownell.
Along with including the Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics’ McCaffrey Street plant on the federal Superfund National Priorities List, the resolution also asks for adequate funding and a proper timeline for the cleanup.
PFOA, which has been linked to numerous chronic health risks, has been affecting Hoosick Falls and Petersburgh residents for over a year.
“This is an important property in Hoosick Falls, and inclusion on the federal National Priorities List will help restore the property and resolve some of the concerns residents have regarding the PFOA situation,” said Brownell. “We also have asked the federal government to provide a specific timeline for this important remediation work. A clear and direct line of communication with residents on this project, and continued progress, are needed to restore confidence and trust.”
The Rensselaer County Legislature also recently approved a resolution to establish a website dedicated to informing residents about the cleanup project.
Taconic Inc., a local manufacturer, has officially claimed responsibility for the PFOA water contamination in the public and private town water supply of Petersburgh, New York.
A news release from Taconic stated that the company has voluntarily entered into a consent order with the New York Department of Environmental Conservation in order to address the PFOA water contamination surrounding its plant on Coon Brook Road.
“Taconic remains committed to continued cooperation with the [DEC and] the town of Petersburgh, as well as its partnership with Rensselaer County,” the release reads.
Company officials say that Taconic has already taken steps to address the PFOA contamination by installing treatment systems for 65 homes and businesses in Petersburgh, supplying bottled waters for town residents, and working on a treatment system for the town’s municipal water system.
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.”
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.”