Newburgh Being Taken to Court Over Water Contamination

Toxic chemical perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) has been detected in Newburgh’s private and public water supply wells since 2014. The hazardous chemical was found in the city’s drinking water supply, Lake Washington at alarmingly elevated levels. In fact, based on benchmarks set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Newburgh declared an emergency in May 2016 and shifted to a new water source. For many in the community, the damage was already done. Residents and visitors had been using the contaminated Lake Washington water for drinking, bathing and cooking for years.

As Courthouse News Service reported, environmental attorney Tate Kunkle and members of his Napoli Shkolnik team are representing Newburgh residents living near the state-designated Superfund site Stewart Air National Guard Base, a reported source of the pollutants. Though a 90-day time limit to file a notice of claim has passed, a March 22nd petition has been filed in Orange County Supreme Court since the contamination continues and resident health statuses have not changed.

The “Blame Game” and finger pointing between the City of Newburgh and the Department of Defense (Dod) regarding the cleanup is ongoing. City officials want the Dod to take responsibility for the contamination, which they blame on the PFOS-containing firefighting foam used at the air base, and clean up. In turn, the Dod claims that Department of Transportation lease exempts it from having to repair damages to the property.

PFOS and PFOA exposure has been linked to serious disease and debilitating health conditions including, testicular and kidney cancers, thyroid issues and developmental  effects to fetuses.

U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer has also commented on the situation, calling it “outrageous.”