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Hudson Valley News

A Dozen Private Wells In New Windsor Test Positive For PFC Compounds

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New York state health officials have been notifying New Windsor residents of the results of private well testing in the vicinity of Stewart Air National Guard base. The state declared the base a Superfund site in August after identifying it as a source of PFOS contamination in the City of Newburgh’s drinking water supply.

The state Department of Health began sampling the private wells in September in the Washington Lake area near the Town of New Windsor/Town of Newburgh border. A DOH spokesman says, to date, the department has sampled 32 private drinking water wells in New Windsor and is in the process of notifying residents of the results. Residents have been hearing via phone as results go out in the mail. Of the 32 wells, 20 were non-detectable for PFOS and PFOA while 12 showed detectable levels, but all were below the federal Environmental Protection Agency health advisory level of 70 parts per trillion (ppt).

Gary VanVoorhis is a New Windsor resident whose well was tested and came back with detectable levels of PFOS and PFOA — levels that fall below the EPA’s 70 parts-per-trillion level. He says health department staff notified him of the results.

“And they said that both wells were contaminated but that they were below the acceptable level,” VanVoorhis says. “Having said that, they said they were going to give us bottled water and a carbon filtration system. So I asked, why do I need that if my levels are acceptable?”

The answer, according to DOH officials, is to act out of an abundance of caution. Here’s state Department of Environmental Conservation Deputy Commissioner of Environmental Remediation and Materials Martin Brand.

“And we have been working with them, taking that information from the Department of Health to offer the homeowners these point-of-entry treatments systems, what we call POETS, These are  sort of a home filtration system that uses carbon to filter out the PFOS and PFOA compounds that were detected,” Brand says. “So we are working with the individual homeowners to evaluate their structures and their plumbing to see what would work best for them.”

VanVoorhis is a 33-year-resident of Steele Road in New Windsor. He attended a public meeting Tuesday night in Newburgh hosted by city officials. State and federal officials were on hand to answer questions and give more information about the blood testing program for which appointments begin November 1. Again, VanVoorhis.

“The contamination’s all around me so I think to be prudent and safe, I would do the blood testing,” says VanVoorhis.

Greg Gaetano has owned his Little Britain Road property for 30 years. His well was tested.

“And my concern is the permanent fix. I understand about well filtration systems and carbon filters, infrared processing, etcetera,” Gaetano says. “However, the permanent fix is to have municipal water brought to this pocket of New Windsor, Steele Road and Route 207, so that we can end the problem once and for all.”

He says there have been well contamination issues with other substances in the past. Again, the DEC’s Brand.

“We’re also working with the Town of New Windsor to see if there’s other options for a more permanent solution to this problem, and that might include hooking up to the existing municipal water system,” Brand says. “So we’re in discussions with the town right now to explore that option.”

Democratic Orange County Legislator Chris Eachus represents New Windsor, a good part of which draws its water from the Catskill Aqueduct.

“But we do have folks living in New Windsor who are still on their wells and we know their wells have been tainted,” says Eachus. “So, yeah, I guess municipal water reaching everybody is what we need to do.”

Eachus is running against Republican state Senator Bill Larkin.

“From the beginning, I wanted the blood and the wells tested.” Larkin says.

Meanwhile, the state health department’s initial free blood testing program will be held at two Cornerstone Family Healthcare locations in Newburgh starting November 1.   

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