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Hoosick Falls Residents Asked For Input On Settlement Offer

The Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics facility on McCaffrey Street in Hoosick Falls
Lucas Willard

Later this week, officials in the Rensselaer County community of Hoosick Falls will consider a settlement offer by two companies deemed responsible for contaminating water sources with the chemical PFOA.

A special village board meeting is scheduled for Thursday evening. Hoosick Falls residents will get the chance to speak their minds on an $850,000 settlement offer from companies Saint-Gobain and Honeywell intended to reimburse the village for costs incurred in the response to the removal of PFOA from the municipal water supply.

Village Mayor David Borge...

“We’re talking about flushing, we’re talking about equipment repairs, we’re talking about costs, we’re talking about expert costs, engineering, communication, attorney’s fees, those kinds of things,” said Borge.

What the settlement does not cover is costs associated with installing a full-capacity filtration system on the village water supply, the temprorary filtration system, ongoing maintenance and testing, etc. Those items are covered in the New York state consent order with the companies.

“So we’re not giving everything up. This agreement does not cover anything because it doesn’t need to. It focuses specifically on the costs put forth by the village since this began. And that’s an important point. I don’t think everyone understands that,” said Borge.

In nearby Petersburgh, the town has been negotiating with company Taconic regarding contamination of its water supplies with the same chemical.

There, like Saint-Gobain and Honeywell in Hoosick Falls, Taconic is under a consent order with the state to deal with the PFOA contamination. The company has agreed to install a filtration system on the municipal water supply and private wells.

Petersburgh Supervisor Alan Webster says the town has been in negotiations “on a nearly daily basis.” The town is seeking reimbursement for costs similar to Hoosick Falls.

“There are costs that have been associated with our water district superintendent and the handling of the transition and the new filtration system, a lot of logisitics with regards to water distribution, and of course legal fees and engineering fees as well. Consultation from both of those avenues are some of the areas we have been looking at and negotiating with,” said Webster.

A class-action suit has been filed against Honeywell and Saint-Gobain on behalf of Hoosick Falls residents potentially injured by the chemical contamination. PFOA, which is odorless and colorless, has been linked to ill-health effects including cancer.

The companies have asked a federal judge for a dismissal in the case.

Honeywell spokeswoman Victoria Streitfeld said 11 plaintiffs who filed the suit agreed to postpone part of the litigation while federal and state agencies investigate and complete remedial work.

She wrote in a statement that Honeywell remains “steadfastly focused on completing these investigations under the supervision of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.  We are committed to implementing an appropriate remedy and continuing to cooperate with the regulators, Hoosick Falls, and the community.”

Thursday’s meeting will be held at the Hoosick Falls Senior Center from 6 to 8 p.m. The public is encouraged to offer their thoughts before officials vote on the settlement proposal.

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.
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