HOOSICK FALLS, NY — The state has directed $10 million from the state Superfund be used to find the village a new water source.
Environmental and health officials have begun exploring whether new or deeper wells, the Hoosick River or some other source could replace the one now in use and tainted with a toxic chemical.
The money from the state's hazardous waste cleanup program will also fund 1,500 filtration systems in private homes in the town of Hoosick.
Friday's announcement builds on Cuomo's new "action plan" that aims to address Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a chemical suspected of being used locally for decades and found to be in the village's tap water and in private wells.
"Protecting the health of New Yorkers is paramount," Cuomo said in a press release issued Friday evening. "My administration is taking aggressive action in Hoosick Falls because no one should have to question the safety of their water. We are working closely with our local partners, and will continue to take all necessary steps to safeguard the public health."
PFOA, also called C8, is one of 100 chemicals municipalities aren't required to test for, but are under federal scrutiny. Officials say it was used in local factories and has been linked to cancer, thyroid diseases and other health issues.
Following a preliminary investigation, the state has named Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics and Honeywell International as two parties "potentially responsible" for releasing PFOA. Officials have said any companies found responsible would be required to reimburse governments for the clean-up costs.
Mayor David Borge commended Cuomo's decision to allocate the funding to the village of 3,500 people.
"It's a sign of true leadership and should reassure the community that government officials are acting quickly, with great resolve and at great expense to ensure their safety," Borge said in a statement.
The state intends to move forward "expeditiously in an open and transparent manner," according to the release, and will conduct "a thorough investigation to ensure the water source is free of PFOA contamination."
Water filters available for Hoosick homeowners with private wells will reduce PFOA levels to below two parts per trillion, according to the governor's office.
Borge said that with this most recent announcement, officials are pursuing a "four-pronged approach" to address the contamination. Saint-Gobain will pay $2 million for a "temporary" carbon filtration system soon to be online at the water treatment plant with a larger one to be completed by October. Meanwhile, investigators are probing the PFOA source and health studies will try to find out more about PFOA exposure.
But residents are worried that drinking contaminated water led to people developing cancer or other health problems. Many have argued that filtration is not a long-term solution.
That belief was apparent during a press conference at Hoosick Falls Central School Friday when a dozen high school students called upon Cuomo to, among other demands, find the village a new water source.
For more information and to make an appointment, residents should call 800-801-8092, email BEOE@health.ny.gov, or visit the DOH website: www.health.ny.gov/environmental/investigations/hoosick/
Contact Edward Damon at 413-770-6979