New York announces new initiatives on PFOA contamination


HOOSICK, N.Y. >> Rensselaer communities with PFOA contamination will receive additional help under recently announced initiatives.

Funding to hire an environmental engineer for Hoosick, state support for municipal water upgrades in Hoosick and Petersburgh, and water reimbursements were among a dozen state commitments announced late last week.

The actions came after "a very productive two-hour meeting," according to New York State Sen. Kathleen Marchione, R-Halfmoon, who announced them in a statement on Thursday night.

"Working together, having an honest conversation, we achieved a great deal of positive outcomes and real results for our local communities," Marchione said in the statement.

In attendance were: Hoosick Supervisor Mark Surdam; Hoosick Falls Mayor David Borge; Petersburgh Supervisor Alan Webster; Petersburgh Board member Denise Jacon Church; Jim Malatras, director of state operations; and state environmental and health officials.

Once used to make Teflon, PFOA, or perfluorooctanoic acid, has turned up in private wells and municipal water systems in New York and Vermont. It's been linked to cancer and other diseases.

In Hoosick and Hoosick Falls, representatives with Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics and Honeywell International have agreed to consent orders holding the companies responsible for the contamination and any costs. In Petersburgh, state environmental officials say Taconic Plastics is the party responsible for contamination; the company has not signed a consent order, but, like Saint-Gobain and Honeywell, agreed to install water filters and pay for bottled water.

Town and village officials voted last month to split the $46,000 cost for an engineering report on extending municipal water south on state Route 22. According to Marchione's statement, the state will now pay for the study and seek reimbursement from Saint-Gobain.

Surdam wrote in an email on Friday that the study would determine the project's scope and cost. The state Environmental Facilities Corp (EFC) would review it and consider funding and financing for the project.

"This is information we absolutely have to have in order to have a meaningful community discussion and before we can make any decisions," Surdam said.

Surdam said he and Village Mayor David Borge had hoped the state would fund the study cost. He thanked Marchione and Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration for assistance.

"As our board members have already stated, we know our community cannot afford to increase taxes to cover a project of this magnitude and we would never support doing so," Surdam said of the water line extensions.

A environmental consultant, to be paid for by the state, would advise the board and community members to ensure the town's "best interests are protected as we work through the PFOA contamination evaluation and clean up," Surdam said.

In Petersburgh, an expansion and improvement project on a municipal water system is estimated to cost $8.5 million. An engineering report will be reviewed by EFC. Marchione's statement references the "state's willingness to explore such a system."

The 250 residents in 74 homes connected to the Petersburgh Water District will be entitled to six months of water rate reimbursements. And town well owners will be able to request a point-of-entry (POET) carbon filtration system.

Other actions include blood testing for Petersburgh residents on July 23 at the Petersburgh Community Center, and installation of a water filtration system at the Berlin School.

Contact Edward Damon at 413-770-6979


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