EPA Declares Hoosick Falls a Federal Superfund site

As was reported by Politco reporter Scott Waldman earlier this month, the EPA’s determination could cost the polluters millions of dollars in cleanup costs and set a national standard in other states dealing with similar PFOA pollution. The state has already determined that two companies, St. Grobain and Honeywell, which owned the factory believed to be the source of the pollution, were responsible for the pollution.

Evidence from email threads dating back to December 2014 revealed that the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) was informed of the water pollution, yet failed to pass this information on to the public. In December 2015, Hoosick Falls David Borge was advised by Environmental and Health agencies to stop telling the residents it was a “personal choice” to drink the contaminated water as he was relying on “fact sheets” that apparently stated no adverse health effects were expected from normal use of the village’s water. Residents were issued the same fact sheets that same month.

Despite an extensively reported health study that clearly links PFOA, the same chemical appearing in the village’s water supply, to kidney cancer and multiple other diseases, the State Health Department remained silent. Not only was this a recent discovery, but also in 2009 an advisory was released warning that short-term exposure to water containing levels of PFOA above 400 parts per trillion is not safe. Yet, the Hoosick Falls’ water system recorded levels at more than 600 ppt.

The Village of Hoosick Falls water crisis made headlines earlier in 2016 after discovery of the man-made chemical Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) was  found in the municipal water supply. On February 11, 2016, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) served a letter on Saint-Gobain and Honeywell which identified the companies as the parties responsible for the PFOA contamination in the Hoosick Falls water system.  The complaint filed by Napoli Shkolnik alleges that Saint-Gobain and Honeywell failed to properly handle and dispose of PFOA at the 14 McCaffrey Street facility in Hoosick Falls, which lead to the widespread contamination of the water supply relied upon by thousands of Hoosick Falls residents, exposing them to dangerous levels of PFOA.  Groundwater sampling at the McCaffrey Street facility found levels of PFOA as high as 18,000 parts per trillion (ppt), forty-five times higher than the health advisory level recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Increased levels of PFOA in the blood has been linked to high cholesterol, high blood pressure, pregnancy complications, and several forms of cancer including thyroid, kidney and testicular.

Declaring Hoosick Falls a federal Superfund site opens up the legal avenue for the federal government to force St. Gobain and Honeywell to pay for the municipal water supply cleanup of the toxic chemical PFOA.