Hoosick Falls hearings on water contamination convene Tuesday


HOOSICK FALLS, N.Y. — The first of three legislative hearings on water contamination will be held in the village on Tuesday.

The New York Senate is expected to hear from environmental and health officials, and village leaders, who will deliver testimony.

A spokesperson for the Senate Majority said on Friday that a list of people who will testify was not finalized, but confirmed that Mayor David Borge would attend.

The Senate Panel will convene at 10:30 a.m. at the Hoosick Falls Central School District. The panel is expected to first hear from people invited to deliver testimony. Members of the public can deliver testimony on a first come, first served basis starting at 5 p.m.

The hearings will be led by Kemp Hannon, a Republican from Long Island and chair of the Senate's Health Committee, and Tom O'Mara, a Republican representing the 58th district and chairman for the Senate's Environmental Conservation Committee.

Residents and public officials have long called for hearings to examine the government response to contamination from PFOA, or perfluorooctanoic acid. The man-made chemical was used in various industries for decades when making Teflon products. Those include tapes, foams, coated glass and wire insulation. Local manufacturing facilities made Teflon for decades.

County and state health and environmental officials became aware of PFOA contamination in 2014. The village, prompted by concerned residents, tested water on its own. Tests in 2015 found levels in the three wells serving the municipal water system were as high as 600 parts per trillion (ppt) and at Saint-Gobain's McCaffrey Street site, 18,000 ppt. At the time, the EPA had a "provisional health advisory" of 400 ppt for the unregulated contaminant.

Some have criticized state and county resources for running public notices contradictory to those from the feds. The state Department of Health issued a fact sheet in January of 2015 that said there's "limited information" about PFOA, that studies "are not strong enough to draw a definitive conclusion about whether PFOA causes cancer in humans," and the amount in village wells "does not constitute an immediate health hazard."

In a letter dated Nov. 25, EPA Regional Director Judith Enck recommended that public water not be used for drinking or cooking. The letter was also sent to Nathan Graber with the state Department of Health, Basil Seggos with the state Department of Environmental Conservation, and Kathy Jimino, Rensselaer County executive.

DEC and private contractors have tested water from 1,069 private wells. Of those, 130 showed levels at or above 70 parts per trillion (ppt), the amount that the EPA set as a new health advisory.

The New York State Assembly has announced it will hold joint hearings with the Senate. Those hearings will be in Albany on Sept. 7 and Long Island on Sept. 12.

Contact Ed Damon at 802-447-7567, ext. 111.


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