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Hoosick Falls Gets $220,000 For PFOA-Related Costs

PFOA formula

The Village of Hoosick Falls has received a financial boost to help cover costs related to its response to the chemical contamination of its water supplies. Meanwhile, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation says work is continuing on finding the village a source of clean drinking water.

In late February, the Hoosick Falls village board tabled a $1 million revised settlement agreement with Saint-Gobain and Honeywell related to costs incurred by the village’s response to the PFOA contamination found in local wells.

That prompted former Mayor David Borge and his successor, Rob Allen, to pursue money from the state to provide financial relief to the village.

It was announced Friday that the New York State Environmental Facilities Corp has given the village $220,000, with support from Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Mayor Allen says some of the money has already gone to use, paying an engineering firm hired by the village.

“Fortunately at my last board meeting we were able to give out a $100,000 of that to the engineering firm MRB, who has been involved in so much of this and has done such great work for us, that was a really great thing to get that money over to them,” said Allen.

The village is continuing its search for a new legal firm after cutting ties with one that had worked to draft the previous settlement agreement, which was widely panned.

On Thursday, some residents traveled to the state capitol to put pressure on the state to use some of the $2.5 billion clean water fund in the newly approved state budget to find a new water source.

To date, the Department of Environmental Conservation has worked to install around 800 carbon filters on private wells to remove PFOA. A permanent filtration system has been installed on the village’s municipal water supply.

But many residents do not trust the filters, says Liz Moran of Environmental Advocates of New York.

“I think the DEC and the state have done some good work in response to Hoosick Falls. But the clock is ticking,” said Moran.

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos told WAMC Friday that the state is still pushing for a new water source and expects a preliminary study undertaken by the polluters, in conjunction with state agencies and the U.S. Geological Survey, to be released this summer. 

“Some positive preliminary news coming out of it: We’re looking at a few spots in the valley where enough water is being produced, at least water quality is good in a couple different wells that have been drilled. And we’re doing continual tests on that to make sure there’s enough water pressure and capacity,” said Seggos.

Allen said he’s eager for the meeting where the public will be able to review plans for a new water source, once it is proposed by the state.

“I know there’s a lot of things that have to happen. You have to find the source. You have to take a certain amount of water. It ties into all the things that are going on underground. But at the end of the day this is about our community becoming whole, not just for the near future but for the long-term future,” said Allen.

Last week the state announced a carbon filtration system installed on the nearby town of Petersburgh's water supply was up and running to remove PFOA.

The filtration system was installed by company Taconic working with DOH and DEC.

Just over the state line in Vermont, state leaders are negotiating with Saint-Gobain to bring clean municipal water to homes in Bennington and North Bennington with wells contaminated with PFOA.

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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