HOOSICK FALLS, — Residents continue to raise their concerns over local and state officials' response to the village's water contamination.
Close to 150 people attended the village board's meeting Tuesday night, where Mayor David Borge gave updates on efforts to remediate tainted water and answered the public's questions, among them:
How will local sites being declared as Superfunds impact the local economy, tax rates and property values? Will corporations invest funds to help the village's recovery?
And why did it take so long for village residents to be told the water contained a chemical linked to cause cancer?
The latter was asked of Borge by a woman who said she did not receive any notice about the water issue until November of 2015, about a year after village officials learned about the Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). Although Borge said the village did mail all water users a notice in late 2014.
"We've been criticized, perhaps justifiably so, for not getting information out as quickly as we might have. But now we're working on that," Borge said in response to the question.
Borge, addressing the public and members of the news media gathered at the Armory, reiterated that his and others' goals were to bring clean water as quickly as possible.
"I can say to you that since Nov. 14 (2014) at every single board meeting, this was discussed. "Samples were made available, letters were sent out... If we could do things differently, perhaps we would."
Borge indicated that, since testing for PFOA is not required by the federal government and new science is constantly emerging about PFOA and other chemicals, the steps the village should have taken were not clear at the time, and he and others followed instructions of public health officials.
"We checked with the state and county health departments to determine what steps needed to be taken," Borge said. "We learned it was an unregulated contaminant, we had to find out how it would be sampled. We learned there were very few labs that could test it... At the time, we were told there were three labs in the country and one in Canada."
Some residents who spoke called for more transparency and more consistent information from state agencies.
Kevin Allard took issue with information presented at a public meeting held by the state Department of Health and Department of Conservation.
"They were looking at data that was 20 years old," Allard said. "They never looked at the C8 Science Panel results. And then we found out they completely changed their opinion, and that's wrong."
Allard said there needs to be an investigation at the state level.
"No other community deserves to be treated the way the DOH treated this village, [the village] board and the residents," he said.
Allard was among a few residents who said the village should not agree to have its water treatment plant upgraded by the Saint-Gobain Corporation, and called for a new water source.
One man called for more community involvement with addressing the water issue and suggested local boards or task groups be founded.
Village resident and former board member Michael Hickey approached officials in August 2014 about the water containing PFOA. The man-made chemical was once used in making nonstick coatings and wire insulation and has been linked to cancer.
Contact Edward Damon at 413-770-6979