New York Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney was in Newburgh Monday to announce he is taking legislative action to ensure the Department of Defense pays for the remediation of PFOS contamination at Stewart Air National Guard Base. Also there was New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation commissioner, who divulged the results of a PFOS fish study in the area.
Congressman Maloney, a Democrat from the 18th district, stood in front of the construction site of Newburgh’s new carbon filtration system, calling on the Department of Defense to take action in halting PFOS discharges at Stewart Air National Guard Base.
“And the time for bureaucratic foot-dragging and excuse-making is over,” Maloney says. “We need the Pentagon to step up and do its job.”
PFOS was found in May 2016 in Newburgh’s main drinking water source, Washington Lake, and the new filtration system for the lake is expected to be up and running in the fall. The city now draws water from the Catskill Aqueduct. PFOS has been linked to firefighting foams used at nearby Stewart Air National Guard Base. In August 2016, the state declared the base a Superfund site. Maloney says the Department of Defense needs to take immediate action to stop PFOS contamination at its source, which Maloney says is an effluent pipe right off the base.
“And this will cost money, which is why I have introduced an amendment to the Military Construction Appropriations bill, which we will vote on this week, which would put $35 million in the budget and explicitly require the Department of Defense to clean up sites like this one and to provide these types of filtration systems to guard against further contamination,” Maloney says.
Plus he says:
“That amendment is on the heels of legislative language that I’ve included in the appropriations bill already that makes clear that the Air Force has $15 million in additional funds to do exactly the type of filtration that is required here at Stewart Air National Guard Base,” Maloney says. “So the bottom line is there should be no more excuses after this week for the Pentagon. They should immediately use the funds Congress has provided, that I’m providing, in this appropriations bill, with the instructions Congress has given them now explicitly to clean up this mess at the source and to stop it from further contaminating our waterways.”
An Air Force spokesman could not be reached in time for this broadcast. New York state has found some of the highest concentrations of PFOS in outfalls from the base, at Recreation Pond. And the outfalls drain into Silver Stream and other tributaries to Washington Lake. Here’s state DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos.
“We’ve had an enormous of foot-dragging from the Department of the Defense over the last year, progress in bits, but nothing that’s comprehensive. We need action; we need to stop the bleeding at the source. And that is the Stewart Air National Guard Base. And that means that the Air National Guard, the Air Force, has to get out there and stop the discharges of PFOS from the property.”
Paul Gallay is president of Riverkeeper.
“The off-site contamination can be stopped. No more contamination should be coming off this property at the Air National Guard Base. It should be treated so that you don’t have increased contamination of Moodna Creek, so that you don’t have contamination reaching the Hudson River,” Gallay says. “So the Department of Defense needs to come and join the party.”
Meanwhile, the DEC’s Seggos announced the preliminary results of research into perfluorinated compounds, or PFCs, in fish in Newburgh.
“And what we found is that the levels of PFOS in fish in several of these waterways, seven of the eight waterways we looked at, are high enough that a ‘catch and release’ advisory should be in place for all seven waterways,” Seggos says.
He says the multilingual signs going up Monday are for Washington Lake, Silver Stream, Recreation Pond, Moodna Creek, Beaver Dam Lake, Lockwood Basin, and a stream from Stewart State Forest to Beaver Dam Lake. The DEC, with the state Department of Health, also released preliminary results of an ongoing study to assess PFC contamination in fish in the Hoosick Falls and Petersburgh area in Rensselaer County. DOH has issued a "catch and release" advisory for Thayers Pond after finding elevated levels of mainly PFOS in certain fish species in Thayers Pond in Hoosick Falls, one of the four water bodies tested.