PETERSBURGH — The company being blamed for contamination of the town water supply with a cancer-causing chemical will pay to install a filtration system.
The state departments of Environmental Conservation and Health announced Wednesday afternoon that they had reached an agreement with Taconic Plastics to install a carbon filtration system similar to one pledged for the village of Hoosick Falls to reduce dangerous levels of perfluorooctanoic acid.
After initial tests by the state detected PFOA levels in the town water supply just below advisory levels from the federal Environmental Protection Agency, officials from the state agencies said they have been working with the town, Rensselaer County and Taconic Plastics to address the contamination and began supplying bottled water to residents. When subsequent tests detected PFOA levels above the EPA limitss, all agreed the filtration system was necessary to remove the contaminant from the water supply.
"We are working aggressively to resolve this issue and ensure a long-term solution for the residents of Petersburgh," said state Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker. "[The departments of Health and Environmental Conservation] and the county will continue to test water samples and provide residents with the most up-to-date information as we move towards a carbon filtration system for the town's water supply."
Petersburgh is the latest municipality in the county to report PFOA contamination, coming a few months after the chemical was found in high concentrations in the water supply in Hoosick Falls. That village recently finished installing a temporary carbon filtration system, but residents and businesses remain under a federal advisory not to use village water for drinking, cooking or bathing until contaminated water is flushed out of the water system.
PFOA is a synthetic substance used in the manufacture of non-stick cookware, dental floss, electrical insulation, fabrics and other products. Chronic exposure has been linked to testicular cancer, kidney cancer, thyroid disease, high cholesterol, ulcerative colitis and pregnancy-induced hypertension. Studies suggest other possible health consequences, including a connection to pancreatic cancer.
"[The departments of Health and Environmental Conservation] and the county will continue to work quickly to conduct further tests to determine the extent of contamination in the town [of Petersburgh] and develop necessary actions to address the contamination," said acting DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos
Planning on the filtration system will begin immediately, according to the state agencies, and Taconic Plastics is cooperating, agreeing to pay for planning, installation and maintenance of the system. While the system is being installed, residents on the town's water system are being reminded to continue to refrain from drinking or cooking with the town water.
Bottled water for town residents, paid for by Taconic Plastics, remains available at Town Hall from 9 a.m. to noon Saturdays and 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesdays, as well as at the Tops supermarket in Hoosick Falls. For more information, call town Supervisor Peter Schaaphok at 369-0910.