PETERSBURGH, N.Y. — Another eastern Rensselaer County town is taking steps to address contamination of its public water supply with a cancer-causing chemical.
The town of Petersburgh is providing bottled water for users of the public water system after tests by the state Health Department detected significant levels of perfluorooctanoic acid in samples of both raw and treated water in the system. While the samples were slightly below the level at which the federal Environmental Protection Agency recommended residents in Hoosick Falls not drink water contaminated with the same chemical, Petersburgh officials decided to take action "out of an abundance of caution," according to a statement from town Supervisor Peter Schaaphok that was posted on the town website.
PFOA is a toxic chemical used for decades primarily to make Teflon coating for cookware. Some studies have linked PFOA to certain types of cancer, and the EPA is considering regulating it under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.
The contamination in Petersburgh comes several weeks after similar contamination was confirmed in wells that supply the public water system in nearby Hoosick Falls, as well as nearby private wells. In that case, state and federal regulators have identified Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics as the likely source of the contamination, and that company has been providing bottled water for residents, as well as agreeing to pay for the installation of a carbon filtration system at the village's treatment plant.
Taconic Plastics has been identified as the closest potential source for the contamination in Petersburgh, according to the statement, and the company has agreed to provide bottled water to the 74 households that comprise the town water system.
"Taconic is in the process of conducting a site evaluation and has asked [the state departments of Health and Environmental Conservation] for their guidance," the company said in a statement posted on the town website. "The company is fully cooperating with both agencies and will take whatever steps these agencies deem appropriate regarding this matter."
Rensselaer County stepped in to provide fresh water over the weekend, with Taconic Plastics to begin providing water Monday at Town Hall, 65 Main St. Water will be available from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and 10 a.m. to noon Saturdays until further notice.
In the meantime, the county Health Department has begun and will continue testing the town wells, as well as private wells near the Taconic Plastics plant on Coon Brook Road. Town officials said they will make public the results of that testing and any mitigation plans as soon as they are available.