HOOSICK, N.Y. — The Hoosick Area Community Participation Working Group, a volunteer committee tasked with reviewing and offering comment on PFAS-related cleanup work in the village and town, will not lack for topics to discuss.
Active Hoosick area Superfund sites include a Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics site on McCaffrey Street; former Oak Materials site on John Street; Saint-Gobain site on Liberty Street; the Hoosick Falls landfill site, and the Alexander Schmigel property.
In addition, environmental investigative work is being performed at potential Superfund sites, or "P" sites, including an Oak Materials site on River Road; the Interface Solutions site; the former Dodge Machine site, and Allied-Signal Laminate Systems on Mechanic Street.
Several current or former industrial sites that used PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) or other PFAS (poly-fluorinated aklyl substances) chemicals are considered by state and federal environmental officials to be principal sources of the contamination found beginning four years ago in the village's well-water system and in hundreds private wells.
The Community Participation Work Group is expected to work closely with officials from environmental agencies and local governments and serve as a community liaison to ensure information about the cleanup and investigatory projects is shared with the public.
Members also are expected to recommend outreach and public participation projects, but the group is not a policy-setting body.
"The group will not serve as a decision-making body," Hoosick Falls Mayor Rob Allen said when the panel was being formed, "but will make important recommendations and provide relevant community input regarding community concerns and perceptions as the remedial projects are being performed. It will also fulfill the critical role of communicating with residents and the public regarding the technical aspects of the remedial activities and public health implications."
The panel is working with The Paige Group, an independent, third-party facilitator and stakeholder engagement specialists selected through a DEC request for proposals to help form and manage the citizen participation process.
After an organizational meeting in May and another in June, the 11-member work group will meet again on July 24, from 6 to 8 p.m., at Hoosick Falls Central School off Route 22.
Current group members are Allen, Hoosick Town Supervisor Mark Surdam, Catherine Dawson, Pat Dailey, Loreen Hackett, Michael Hickey, Brian Keegan, Barbara Lancour, David Lucas, Emily Marpe and Marianne Zwicklbauer.
During its June meeting, the group meet with state environmental officials involved in the cleanup process here, heard an overview of the Superfund program and how it normally unfolds; and received updates on the Hoosick contamination sites and on related cleanup topics.
An update is expected from the state Department of Health at the July 24 meeting.
PFOA and related chemicals have been associated with thyroid diseases, testicular, liver and other cancers; high cholesterol, and other diseases or conditions.
The citizen group also will be involved in an ongoing examination of municipal water supply options for Hoosick area communities, such as connecting the area to the Tomhannock Reservoir in Pittstown or securing new groundwater sources.
PFAS chemicals in drinking water from village and private wells currently is being filtered.
More information on the working group is available on the town and village websites: townofhoosick.org or villageofhoosickfalls.com, or on a related New York Department of Environmental Conservation site [https://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/108791.html].
Jim Therrien writes for New England Newspapers in Southern Vermont, including the Bennington Banner, Brattleboro Reformer and Manchester Journal. Twitter: @BB_therrien