HOOSICK FALLS, NY — PFOA, the chemical that contaminated nearby public and private water supplies, was found in water collected late this winter from a former landfill and a nearby pond.
Water samples taken on March 14 from the capped landfill at the end of Walnut Street was found to have PFOA levels of 21,000 parts per trillion, according to a spokesman for the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). Water samples taken from the pond in February had PFOA levels of 1,200 ppt.
The landfill's level represents the highest amount of the reputed cancer-causing chemical found in the village to date. It's 300 times more than what the EPA says is safe for drinking water.
The results were first reported by media outlets late last week. It wasn't immediately clear when the results were returned to DEC.
The findings came from "extensive sampling" of surface water, the landfill, and other locations such as tips of illegal dumping sites, farms and industrial sites, according to the spokesman.
The landfill is adjacent to the Hoosic River. Tests on four river water samples taken from both upstream and downstream of the landfill in February found PFOA levels below 20 ppt. The EPA's "health advisory level" for drinking water is 70 ppt.
"The initial sample results of river water up and down stream of the landfill do not indicate that PFOA from the landfill is impacting water quality in the Hoosic River or wells feeding the municipal water supply or private homes," a spokesperson for DEC said in a statement.
It's unclear when the PFOA was dumped. The landfill has been capped for years.
A DEC official declined to elaborate on how it got there and said anything at this stage is speculation.
The second highest level was found beneath Saint-Gobain Performance Plastic's McCaffrey Street facility — tests by the company last year found 18,000 ppt in a groundwater monitoring well.
That company and Honeywell International, as successors of former companies which operated at several locations around the village for decades, both signed consent orders with the state last month which holds them accountable for pollution.
PFOA, or perfluorooctanoic acid, was used to make the nonstick coating Teflon. It's been linked to various cancers and other diseases. It's discovery in Hoosick Falls led to a no-drink order being issued in November, installation of home and municipal filtration systems, companies paying for bottled water, and a blood-testing program for residents.
The highest levels were found on the northwestern area of the property, adjacent to railroad tracks and about 200 feet east of the Hoosic River.
DEC is now expected to investigate the landfill.
The agency "is now examining historical records of surrounding companies that may have disposed industrial wastes in the landfill and will aggressively pursue those responsible for this pollution," a statement from DEC said.
The agency "is refining and focusing our investigation based on these sampling results, to determine how the elevated contamination levels observed at the landfill monitoring wells are impacting the surrounding area, and identify those responsible for this contamination."
Contact Ed Damon at 802-447-7567, ext. 111.