Rensselaer County residents seek access to PFOA contamination documents

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HOOSICK FALLS, N.Y. — Rensselaer County residents who were affected by drinking water contamination in their communities want to see documents subpoenaed by companies deemed responsible for the pollution.

Residents and an Albany, N.Y.-based environmental watchdog group, in a letter last week, requested a meeting with state Sen. Kemp Hannon to review information provided by three companies being held responsible for PFOA contamination.

The letter was sent on March 17 by residents of Hoosick Falls and Petersburgh, N.Y. and by the Environmental Advocates of New York.

Hannon, a Nassau County Republican who is chairman of the Senate Health Committee, was one lawmaker who led legislative hearings on water contamination last year.

The Senate's Environmental Conservation Committee subpoenaed internal records last year from Honeywell International, Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics and Taconic Plastics. Those records have not been made public.

Residents wrote they appreciated Hannon's leadership on water quality initiatives, but added: "Now we need your help to learn more about how our communities became polluted."

"While we are discouraged that requests for this information have been ignored by the Senate, we have no reason to believe that you wish to continue this troubling trend by withholding information crucial to the health of our families and overall community," the letter stated.

PFOA, or perfluorooctanoic acid, is a toxic, man-made industrial chemical that was formerly used to manufacture products coated with Teflon. PFOA turned up in public and private water supplies in the towns of Hoosick and Petersburgh and areas in Rensselaer and Washington counties. It's also been found across the border in Bennington County, Vermont.

In the village of Hoosick Falls, the regional EPA office told the approximately 4,000 customers of the municipal water system in late 2015 to not drink their tap water because of elevated PFOA levels. Saint-Gobain paid to install filtration systems.

Many residents expressed frustration over the response by state health and environmental officials. Legislative hearings were held in Hoosick Falls and on Long Island last summer.

Residents, in their letter, argued they have a "legitimate need" to see the documents.

"The information contained in the documents your office has acquired may help us gain a better understanding of who knew what when and could help our local governments tremendously as they negotiate settlements with the companies responsible for this crisis," the letter stated.

Reach staff writer Edward Damon at 802-447-7567, ext. 111 or @edamon_banner.


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