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NYSDOH: Municipal Water Safe To Drink In Hoosick Falls

Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo

The state health department said Wednesday repeated testing of the village of Hoosick Falls water system shows non-detection of perfluorooctanoic acid, and the water is now safe for all uses including cooking and drinking.

Since March 13th, testing of the village water system has shown PFOA at less than 2 ppt. Before the temporary filtration system was installed in February, concentrations were many times higher than the state-recommended threshold of 100 ppt.

The chemical, used in manufacturing insulating and non-stick materials, has been linked to serious health effects including cancer.

The carbon filter was paid for by Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics. The company’s McCaffrey Street facility is at the center of the PFOA contamination investigation.

Village water customers had been waiting for the all-clear announcement for months, according to Mayor David Borge…

“The temporary system moving has verified and really proven that the GAC system works and works effectively. We have 100 percent non-detects throughout the entire water supply for the village. So that’s a huge step forward.” 

Borge thanked residents, who have been using bottled water for months, for their patience.

It was last November that the Environmental Protection Agency recommended that residents stop using the water for drinking and cooking.

Bottled water will continue to be provided to residents free of charge until a permanent filtration system is installed, on track for this October.

In a statement, Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said the announcement “demonstrates the tremendous progress we have made.” Zucker commended Governor Cuomo “for the commitment he has made to the residents, and for all the actions he has taken to resolve the contamination issue.”

Department of Environmental Conservation Acting Commissioner Basil Seggos called the news a “significant milestone.”

Borge said local officials will continue working with the state to identify and obtain a new, non-contaminated water source.

“We will have not only double filtered water, but we will have a new water source, and we will have the greatest water possible. And actually the cleanest water in the great Northeast, without compromise.”

Meanwhile, the state is continuing to test for PFOA and install filtration units on private wells in the surrounding Town of Hoosick.

To date, about 750 samples have been taken from private and public wells in the area. Hundreds of carbon filtration systems have been placed on private wells.

Town of Hoosick Supervisor Mark Surdam is advising all town residents to have their water tested for PFOA and a filtration system installed.

“Until we get a better handle on how this thing is flowing through the rocks and how its ending up in some of these wells. I would encourage people to get the system, at least for now.”

The state faced criticism after some residents discovered tags on valves in their new filtration systems that were marked illegal for use with potable water. After the discovery in early March, DEC fired the contractors associated with installing the parts in question.

While the village system tests prove that carbon filtration is working, Surdam says he hopes to organize another community meeting with DEC and DOH to answer town residents’ questions and concerns.

“They certainly get an A for effort, there’s just been some things that have happened that may be out of everyone’s control, part of the learning process. But I think that people need to stay informed.”

Surdam encouraged residents to stay in contact with state authorities and ask questions. DOH has already fielded more than 1,000 calls on a PFOA hotline. DEC and DOH are operating out of a command center on Route 7 with more than 100 full-time staff. Soil testing is scheduled to begin in the coming weeks.

Investigations are continuing in the Rensselaer County community of Petersburgh, where about 75 water customers have been affected by PFOA contamination. An informational meeting in Petersburgh is scheduled for April 5th.

State officials in Vermont are continuing to test for PFOA in wells surrounding the former Chemfab Plant in North Bennington and the former Warren Wire plant in Pownal.

Lucas Willard is a news reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011. He produces and hosts The Best of Our Knowledge and WAMC Listening Party.
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