HOOSICK FALLS, N.Y. — A temporary treatment system which would remove a toxic chemical from the village water supply could be delivered as early as Tuesday and installed within three weeks, according to Mayor David Borge.
And while a larger, "permanent" system is expected to be completed by October, the village is in talks about a possible settlement and long-term solution to environmental contamination from perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).
"The village's attorney, John Paterson, recommended we bring in a specialist, someone with an environmental background," Borge told the Banner Monday.
The village contracted with the Glens Falls law firm FitzGerald Morris Baker Firth to negotiate a settlement with the Saint-Gobain Corporation, the current owner of a McCaffrey Street facility being eyed as a contamination source. Thomas Ulasewicz, an attorney with the firm concentrating on environmental law, began representing the village in November. Borge said. Upon Ulasewicz's advisement, the law firm in turn contracted with a communications consultant, Albanybased Behan Communications.
"We've brought in a number of specialists on this issue," Borge said. "Engineers, attorneys and community members. We felt it was important to have people in those areas advise us since there was a concern by community members that we weren't getting information out quick enough."
To date, the cost to the village has been nothing, Borge said, although costs continue to incur.
"When we have to bring in specialists for these kinds of situations, you're obviously looking at costs that begin to incur," Borge said. "That's part of the overall discussions."
Borge said he couldn't discuss further details of the negotiations.
The EPA says the water shouldn't be used for cooking or drinking because it contains PFOA, sometimes called C8, a man-made chemical once used to make nonstick cookware and to insulate wires. It's been linked to cancer, is the subject of numerous lawsuits against DuPont alleging contamination and negligence, and many scientists and activists are calling for stricter regulation.
The EPA's "provisional health advisory" is 400 parts per trillion, but testing showed the water system serving some 4,900 people had up to 670 parts per trillion.
Saint-Gobain's site at 14 McCaffrey St. is 500 yards from the village's wells and had levels 40 times greater than the advisory. Officials with the French multinational corporation say they aren't sure their property is the source; the EPA is seeking an investigation into when and where the contamination took place.
"Our goal right from the beginning has been to give clean water to village residents as quickly as possible," Borge said.
Saint-Gobain is paying for bottled water and will pay some $2.3 million for "temporary" and "permanent" granulated activated carbon (GAC) filters. The temporary system is expected to be online next month, and the permanent to be completed by October.
Both systems, manufactured by Calgon Carbon of Pittsburgh, Pa., will reduce PFOA levels to below "the current laboratory detection levels" of 20 parts per trillion, according to a basis of design report prepared for the village by CT Male Associates of Latham.
The 22-foot-high, two vessel temporary system and accompanying heated enclosure will be sited some 10 feet to the existing water treatment plant. Water already treated by microfiltration and disinfection will be directed through the filters before being piped out to users through the existing 12-inch water main.
The temporary filter will treat up to 500,000 gallons a day, the village's "average day demand," although the treatment plant is rated at 1 million gallons a day. Borge said at a recent meeting the village may have to consider water restrictions this summer, a time when there's increased demand for water.
Residents have questioned whether the village will bear the cost of filter maintenance. The report states the activated carbon must be replaced every 200 days, but it's unclear how much that would cost.
In response to an inquiry, Saint Gobain spokeswoman Dina Pokedoff said: "The village will manage the operation of the temporary and permanent systems, and Saint-Gobain has agreed to pay for those operational costs."
Contact Edward Damon at 413-770-6979