¹ Nationwide sampling for PFOA, PFOS and other PFCs in drinking water began in 2013, under an EPA Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring program that periodically requires all large systems—and a representative sample of small public water systems serving less than 10,000 people—to test for unregulated contaminants.
² The EPA provisional health advisory level for short-term PFOA exposure from drinking water.
Village officials have worked diligently to obtain information and guidance regarding the presence of PFOA in the municipal water supply. Below is a timeline of events that have occurred since concerns were first raised about the potential presence of PFOA in the water. This timeline will be updated each month as events warrant:
Click on the headings to see the actions.
A local resident meets with Village Mayor Dave Borge to request samples of water from the municipal water system be analyzed for the presence of PFOA. Village officials discuss the request in executive session at the monthly board meeting.
The Village contacts the Rensselaer County Department of Health (RCDOH) for guidance. They refer the Village to the Troy Water Department because it has conducted water sampling for PFOA¹. The Troy Water Department provides information to the Village regarding laboratories that are capable of conducting PFOA water sampling, if needed.
The RCDOH contacts the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH), which approves and supervises operations at the Village water treatment plant. Ultimately, the Village is instructed that it is not necessary to collect water samples based on the concerns raised. In an attempt to address any concerns, the Village Board elects to obtain the water samples anyway.
Village officials ask MRB Group, an engineering firm, to identify NYS-certified laboratories capable of conducting a PFOA water sampling program. Village officials contact the Rensselaer County Disaster Coordinator to determine if alternative water could be provided. The Village is informed it is not eligible because PFOA is an unregulated compound. A group of residents attend the monthly board meeting to voice concerns.
The Village collects two rounds of water samples and sends them for analysis. The issue is discussed in executive session at the monthly board meeting.
The Village water sampling results are received, as are results from sampling conducted by NYSDOH. PFOA levels ranging from 180 parts per trillion to 540 parts per trillion are detected. (In 2009, EPA established a provisional health advisory for PFOA of 400 parts per trillion to protect against the potential risk from exposure through drinking water.)
Based on the findings, Village officials meet with the operators of the municipal water supply and decide to no longer draw water from wells where levels of PFOA above 400 parts per trillion² are detected. Outreach is made to the engineering firm that designed the water treatment plant for assistance. Village officials are now informed that the current water treatment plant is not designed to remove PFOA from water.
Village officials also contact the New York State Rural Water Association, multiple engineering firms, NYSDOH, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), the RCDOH. They also contact the New Jersey Department of Health, because of its experience with PFOA in groundwater. New Jersey officials inform the Village that they stopped drawing water from their own municipal wells where high levels of PFOA were detected, after they received data indicating there could be a problem.
Extensive research is performed to learn more about PFOA and its potential impacts to human health and the environment. Research done by the citizen that made the discovery is also shared with board members to expedite research. The Village consults with its engineers to evaluate potential remediation approaches to address the issue.
The issue is discussed at the monthly board meeting. The Village board decides to make all the sampling results available to the public, without requiring residents to file a formal Freedom of Information Application.
The Village receives a letter from RCDOH indicating “the Village is in compliance with all of the regulations” of EPA, NYSDOH and RCDOH. Officials from RCDOH attend the monthly board meeting to provide guidance and answer residents’ questions.
Village officials contact representatives at Saint-Gobain to inform them of the sampling results and communicate their concerns that the chemical may be originating from the McCaffrey Street plant. Saint-Gobain agrees to an open dialogue moving forward.
A subsequent informational meeting is held for the Village Board at the Saint-Gobain facility. Discussions begin regarding the provision of alternate water.
Saint-Gobain notifies the Village they have provided notice of the sampling results to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under Section 8(e) of the Toxic Substances Control Act, 15 U.S.C. § 2601, et seq., even though Saint-Gobain determines they are not legally required to do so.
Village officials continue to update county and state agencies and elected officials.
The Village informs municipal water supply users of the sampling results in a letter included with water bills. Information also is posted on the Village website.
A Water Advisory Committee is established, including representatives from RCDOH, NYSDOH, several engineering firms, the Town and Village, Saint-Gobain, and operators of the Village municipal water supply system. The Committee recommends development of a strict protocol for future water sampling, the use of a second laboratory to confirm sampling results, and the evaluation of additional treatment methods that might be used to eliminate PFOA from the water supply. The recommendations are reviewed and implemented by MRB.
A third round of water samples are collected for analysis. Alternative chemistry water treatment options are explored. Once the results are received, they are provided to NYSDOH, are discussed at the monthly board meeting and reviewed with Saint-Gobain.
Village officials receive guidance from NYSDOH stating the presence of PFOA "at the levels detected in the supply wells and in finished water does not constitute an immediate health hazard… The detection of PFOA indicates a need to identify the sources of contamination and to take measures to reduce it so that long-term exposure can be reduced and future exposures prevented."
Representatives from the Hoosick Falls Municipal Water Plant visit Schuylerville to evaluate an installed Reverse Osmosis filtering system that might be effective locally. Though potentially effective, Village officials determine it is impractical for the Hoosick Falls system.
Fourth and fifth rounds of water samples are collected and sent to the laboratory for analysis. The results are reviewed with the Water Advisory Committee, discussed at the monthly board meeting and shared with Saint-Gobain.
The Village Board retains MRB to evaluate additional potential water treatment options because exploratory advanced chemistry treatments are determined to be ineffective.
MRB and operators of the Village water system collect water samples from the Hoosic River upstream of the Village and analyze them for PFOA. The chemical is not detected in levels exceeding EPA’s provisional health advisory.
Saint-Gobain retains C.T. Male, an engineering firm, to work on its behalf.
The Water Advisory Committee meets a second time. A volunteer citizen representative joins the committee, as well as representatives from the staffs of Senator Marchione, Congressman Gibson and Senator Schumer. During the discussion, participants consider conducting a Calgon pilot study to determine if Granular Activated Carbon could be used to remove PFOA from the water. MRB evaluates the appropriateness of a pilot study.
Village officials contact all county and state elected officials to discuss the issue. MRB also contacts EPA to inform them of the situation and request financial assistance for alternate water.
A second letter is included in residents’ water bills to update them on the issue, noting that testing is ongoing.
MRB consults with Calgon regarding the pilot study. The Village Board approves performance of the study. A discussion about the study takes place at the monthly board meeting. Fifty gallons of water from the municipal supply are provided to Calgon for the study.
NYSDOH offers to collect and analyze water samples from some private wells in the area. C.T. Male develops an exploratory sampling program to be conducted at the Saint-Gobain property on McCaffrey Street.
Results of the pilot study are received. The study demonstrates that Granular Activated Carbon (GAC) is an effective treatment for PFOA in the Hoosick Falls municipal water supply. The effectiveness of various GAC options is explored, and effective filtering lifespan estimates are derived using Hoosick Falls water.
Village officials speak with officials at the New York State Environmental Facilities Corp, which provides low-cost capital, financing and technical assistance for water quality projects, and NYSDEC, to identify potential funding sources for the GAC treatment.
Meetings are held with Senator Marchione and Assemblyman McLaughlin to discuss state funding options for the GAC treatment. Village officials again contact all county and state elected officials for assistance and support. The Governor's Capital District representative contacts Village officials to make introductions, which prompts updates throughout the summer to keep the Governor's Office apprised.
The GAC pilot study results are reviewed at the monthly board meeting.
Village officials continue to evaluate potential state and federal funding for GAC treatment at the water treatment plant. Calls are made to all county and state elected representatives for assistance.
A sixth round of water samples is collected and analyzed. The sample results are provided to NYSDOH and reviewed at the monthly board meeting.
NYSDOH begins sampling of private wells in the Town outside Village.
The Village Board approves an engineering report prepared by MRB that developed a preliminary design for a permanent GAC system at the water treatment plant. The Village Board also agrees to apply for state and federal funds for the GAC treatment.
Saint-Gobain attends the monthly board meeting and voluntarily offers to conduct additional water sampling on its McCaffrey Street property.
Saint-Gobain begins its groundwater and soil sampling program at the McCaffrey faciilty.
Village officials approve another application for state funds by MRB.
All county and state elected officials are contacted and updated.
A third update letter is provided to municipal water users with their water bills.
NYSDOH verbally provides the results of its private well sampling program to the Village. Elevated levels of PFOA were detected in three of 11 wells tested. NYSDOH officials and town representatives meet with the three property owners where elevated levels were detected to notify them of the results. NYSDOH informs the Village that it intends to collect additional private well samples in order to help develop a more precise map of the area impacted by PFOA.
The state Environmental Facilities Corporation notifies the Village that it is ineligible for funding because any available funding will first be directed to other communities dealing with regulated chemicals (unlike PFOA which is an unregulated compound). NYSDOH confirms the information received from the state Environmental Facilities Corporation.
Unsuccessful at its attempts to obtain state or federal funding for the GAC treatment, Mayor Borge seeks a meeting with Governor Cuomo. Congressman Gibson’s office also is contacted regarding potential funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
NYSDOH provides the official results of its private well sampling program to the Village. Officials from NYSDOH and the Village begin to map the extent of PFOA in groundwater, based on the results.
Saint-Gobain meets with Village and Town representatives and provides the results of its sampling program. Saint-Gobain reports that minimal levels of PFOA were detected in surface soils, but elevated levels were found in groundwater monitoring wells. Saint-Gobain informally offers to fund the GAC treatment on the Village water treatment plant. Village officials reiterate its request that Saint-Gobain provide alternate water to municipal water customers until a treatment system is installed at the water treatment plant. Saint-Gobain offers to assist in some manner. The Village board begins to explore options.
All county and state elected officials are contacted. A briefing is provided to Rensselaer County Executive Kathy Jimino, who subsequently contacts EPA regarding funding for a GAC treatment system.
Governor Cuomo’s office informs Village officials that the Governor is unavailable for a meeting.
MRB contacts representatives at the state Environmental Facilities Corp. and are informed the Village was not approved to receive funding and/or low-interest or interest-free loans.
Saint-Gobain attends the monthly Village board meeting to present the results of its sampling program to the public and notifies the Board of its intention to fund GAC treatment at the water treatment plant. Saint-Gobain also agrees to establish and fund a free bottled water program for residents. Discussions regarding a legal agreement with Saint-Gobain begin in earnest.
Distribution of water coolers for special populations begins the week of November 22, 2015. A free bottled water program for all residents begins at Tops Market on November 29, 2015. Alternate arrangements are provided for those needing special assistance.
Outreach is made to commercial entities using the municipal water supply, and those using large quantities of water, to discuss their needs. A plan is initiated to address their requirements.
Options for flushing the municipal water system after filtering are discussed.
The Village attorney recommends the Board hire legal counsel that has expertise in environmental issues. The Village Board hires FitzGerald Morris Baker Firth PC.
Village officials consult with EPA. EPA subsequently issues a letter to the Village dated November 25, 2015, clarifying that EPA does not have available funding for an alternate water supply. EPA directs the Village to NYSDOH. EPA’s letter also recommends that alternate water be provided to users of the municipal water supply and that municipal water not be used for drinking or cooking.
Village officials coordinate an informational open house with representatives from the regulating agencies and other parties involved or impacted by the PFOA issue. The public is invited to attend to ask questions, receive information and raise concerns.
A fourth letter to municipal water users is sent with water bills to update residents.
Village officials continue to consult with RCDOH and NYSDOH. Additional questions are asked regarding EPA's letter to the Village and guidance is requested. EPA clarifies its recommendation in a statement issued on December 17, 2015.
A fifth letter is mailed to municipal water users on December 18, 2015 with EPA’s 12/17/15 statement and a recommendation that residents avail themselves of the free bottled water program.
A meeting is held with RCDOH to evaluate commercial entities using municipal water.
Village officials meet with representatives of Healthy Hoosick Water, Inc., to listen to concerns and discuss next steps.
Discussions continue with Saint-Gobain on an agreement whereby Saint-Gobain will fund GAC treatment at the water treatment plant and the free bottled water program.
Guidance is also sought from NYSDOH, engineers and Calgon on the effectiveness of temporary treatment and the availability of equipment for a temporary system. Village officials learn that one temporary GAC unit is available on a first-come, first-served basis from Calgon. Engineers develop a design to install the temporary system, which is submitted to NYSDOH for approval.
Congressman Chris Gibson (19th District) sends a letter to NYSDOH Commissioner Howard Zucker dated December 29, 2015, asking NYSDOH to consider conducting a study of cancer rates in the Village of Hoosick Falls, and conduct ongoing medical monitoring for Village residents.
Village officials meet with The Water Angels, the volunteer water delivery group, to assist with development of identification badges and guidelines to ensure safety as they deliver water to the elderly and housebound. Local police provide assistance and guidance.
At a special board meeting held on January 7, Village officials meet in executive session with legal counsel to discuss progress on an agreement with Saint-Gobain. During a public session, the Board reviews efforts to acquire a temporary treatment system for the water treatment plant. The Board authorizes the Mayor to lease the temporary equipment from Calgon, contingent upon NYSDOH approval.
NYSDOH approves the design and installation of the temporary treatment system by letter dated January 7. The Mayor immediately contacts Calgon to lease the equipment. Notification of the lease is provided to all county, state and federal elected officials.
Village engineers review and provide comments on an intermediate engineering design of a long-term GAC treatment system to be installed at the water treatment plant, which was prepared by Saint-Gobain’s engineers.
Village officials speak with Saint-Gobain regarding the need to install individual water treatment systems, called POET systems, at select locations in the Village. Saint-Gobain agrees to fund the requested systems.
An update of all activities taken by the Village to respond to the PFOA issue is provided at the monthly Board meeting on January 12.
Village and Town officials meet with EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck, prior to her participation at a public meeting sponsored by Healthy Hoosick Water at the public school on January 14, 2016. EPA distributes a Frequently Asked Questions fact sheet.
At the public meeting, the state Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) announces that it has issued a letter to EPA asking it to nominate for inclusion on the National Priorities List the Saint-Gobain McCaffrey Street property, and any other properties that may be identified with high levels of PFOA. NYSDEC sends a second letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy asking that EPA adopt a protective maximum contaminant level for PFOA and lower its provisional health advisory of 400 parts per trillion.
Village officials contact state and federal representatives to obtain additional information regarding a potential federal Superfund designation for the Saint-Gobain property.
Village officials request a meeting with NYSDEC officials to get clarification on its request to EPA for Saint-Gobain property to be designated a federal Superfund site. The Village Board seeks information regarding the process for including a site on the National Priorities List, and the roles of the Village Board and the public during that process. A meeting with NYSDEC is held on January 22.
NYSDOH provides Village officials with results from its latest sampling event.
The Village takes delivery of a temporary treatment system on January 26. When installed at the municipal water treatment plant, it will effectively reduce PFOA in the water supply to safe drinking levels. Installation of the equipment begins immediately.
On January 27, Governor Cuomo announces he has issued an emergency regulation to classify PFOA as a hazardous substance and is classifying the Saint-Gobain McCaffrey plant as a state Superfund site. The Governor commits to allocating significant state resources to investigate the source of PFOA, to conduct a Health Risk Analysis to establish a PFOA drinking water guidance level, to retest private wells, and to immediately install filtration systems at the school and other community gathering places. NYSDOH also will begin offering blood tests to residents in mid-February. A state hotline is established at 1-800-801-8092.
EPA issues a statement on January 28 to confirm the Agency is developing a lifetime health advisory for PFOA. As the work progresses, EPA recommends that any resident in the Town or Village with private wells at which PFOA has been detected at levels greater than 100 parts per trillion should not use the water for drinking or cooking, and should instead take advantage of the free bottled water available at Tops Market. EPA also recommends that any resident in the Town or Village with a private well that has not yet been tested ask NYSDOH to test their well, and in the meantime obtain free bottled water at Tops Market.
NYSDEC police execute a search warrant to investigate alleged illegal solid waste dumping in a wooded area off a service road on NY 22 (River Street) in the Town of Hoosick. Local police assist with the investigation.
Village officials complete the installation and disinfection of a temporary Granular Activated Carbon treatment system at the water treatment plant. Water treatment plant operators are trained on the new system. Flushing of local water mains and storage tanks begins, after protocols are approved by NYSDOH and NYSDEC.
Village officials mail a letter to all Village residents providing an update on the filtration system and New York State’s recent announcements.
NYSDEC officials inform the Village by letter that, “DEC and EPA are coordinating the parallel paths of our investigations to ensure the process moves expeditiously and efficiently.” DEC also notifies the Village it is collecting samples from existing monitoring wells at the school bus garage property.
Village officials send a letter to New York State and EPA on February 5 requesting they agree to participate at a public meeting to discuss the state Superfund regulatory process, public involvement opportunities, and coordination between agencies. NYSDEC, NYSDOH and EPA have yet to respond to the Village’s letter.
EPA collects soil samples from the Little League baseball fields located near the Village public water wells. Results are expected in April. Local Little League representatives arrange to use ball fields at the Hoosick Falls Central School District and at the Hoosac School as a contingency.
As a result of its preliminary investigation, NYSDEC identifies Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics and Honeywell International as parties responsible for the PFOA contamination. DEC says this is the “first step” in the process to develop a consent order under which the companies, and others that may be identified, would be held liable to pay for the investigation and cleanup of PFOA.
Students at the Hoosick Falls Central School District hold a press conference to voice their concerns and urge New York State to identify an alternative water supply. Later that day, Governor Andrew Cuomo announces that the state has begun planning for a possible alternate water supply in the Village, in addition to the long-term carbon filtration system Saint-Gobain has agreed to install at the water treatment plant. A new water supply might include installing new or deeper wells within the Town or Village area determined to be free of PFOA contamination, the Hoosic River or other clean water sources outside the Town or Village. The Governor also announces that the state will allocate $10 million from the state Superfund program to purchase and install water filtration systems for approximately 1,500 private drinking water wells in the Town and Village of Hoosick, if requested by a homeowner.
The state Department of Financial Services sets up a command center in Hoosick Falls on February 16 and 17 to help residents with mortgage issues, after two local financial institutions announce they will no longer issue local mortgages in light of the PFOA issue.
Over the course of the month, Village officials provide updates and/or tours of the water treatment plant to U.S. Congressman Chris Gibson, State Senator Kathy Marchione, Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin, Chris Meyer of Rensselaer County Executive Kathy Jimino’s office, Rensselaer County Legislature Chairman Stan Brownell, Hoosick Falls Central School District Superintendent Ken Facin, and Town Supervisor Mark Surdam.
NYSDOH representatives begin performing free blood testing for community members who wish to be tested.
David Fleming, Supervisor of the Town of Nassau in Rensselaer County, contacts Village officials to offer assistance, based on his experience with the Dewey Loeffel Landfill Superfund Site in his community.
Village officials and representatives from Healthy Hoosick Water interact with a team of civil and environmental engineers, chemists, geologists, and geophysicist academics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) and Bennington College who reached out to offer assistance and technical expertise. An ongoing dialog is established.
NYSDOH initiates informational sessions at the Armory every Tuesday and Thursday from 2:00-8:00 p.m. and on Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Village officials provide an update to residents at the monthly board meeting, which is moved to the Armory to accommodate a larger audience. The Village Board ratifies its November decision to retain FitzGerald Morris Baker Firth PC. A formal engagement letter was finalized in January. The Village is in negotiations with Saint-Gobain to have the company cover these fees, along with other professional fees the Village incurs as a result of the PFOA issue.
NYSDOH announces the results of additional water samples collected at the Village water treatment plant before the GAC temporary filtration system was installed. One sample detected PFOA at 983 parts per trillion. A subsequent sample collected at the same location detected PFOA at 422 parts per trillion. Additional samples collected in the municipal water supply distribution system are detected at levels up to 1,010 parts per trillion. DOH informs the Village that the results “do not change the recommendations that the NYSDOH has made.” DOH also announces the results of 145 water tests collected from private residential wells in the Town of Hoosic. Forty-two of the wells had PFOA levels above EPA’s advisory of 100 parts per trillion. All of NYSDOH’s results can be viewed here.
Citizens, Hoosick Area Church Association (HACA) members, and representatives from the Village, Town, and County meet with representatives of the national Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) team at the First United Presbyterian Church of Hoosick Falls to discuss our situation and learn of ways the PDA may be able to assist our community. An ongoing dialog is established.
Village flushing activities are completed during the week of March 7. NYSDOH distributes information to residents regarding protocols for flushing household piping.
NYSDOH initiates a rigorous sampling program of the new GAC filtration system at the water treatment plant (pre- and post-treatment) and at several households connected to the municipal water supply. NYSDOH informs the Village Board that the new filtration system is “functioning properly” and removing PFOA to non-detectable levels (which is defined to be less than 2 parts per trillion). All of the sample results received by NYSDOH are posted here.
In order to relieve fatigued volunteers, on March 4, the Hoosick Area Church Association (HACA) begins to manage a program aimed at delivering free bottled water to the elderly and those with special needs. Saint-Gobain and Honeywell agree to provide funding for the service and offer staff and vehicles to deliver large quantities of water, if needed. In addition, water is provided to local police to keep at the police station and in cruisers to assist with local deliveries.
NYSDEC informs the Village on March 5 that it has begun drafting a legal agreement, called a Consent Order, which will require Saint-Gobain and Honeywell to fully investigate and clean up the PFOA in the community. New York State officials inform the Village Board that it intends to finalize this Consent Order with the companies by the end of the month, and it will include all the provisions contained in a separate agreement that the Village had been negotiating with Saint-Gobain and NYSDOH. Saint-Gobain assures Village officials that it will abide by its prior commitments to fund the bottled water program available at Tops Market, and the temporary and full capacity carbon filtration systems at the water treatment plant.
Governors of New York, New Hampshire and Vermont send EPA a letter on March 10 asking the Agency to “expeditiously review the best available science on this contaminant, and provide uniform guidance to states that our health and environmental officials can use in assessing the safety of our drinking water.” A copy of the letter is posted here.
An update on the water issue is provided at a monthly Village Board meeting on March 8. Some residents voice concerns about the costs they incurred when flushing household piping.
Governor Cuomo visits the Village of Hoosick Falls on March 13 to tour the new filtration system at the municipal water treatment plant. During a press conference held during the visit, the Governor announces the availability of funds to provide municipal water users with rebates covering six months of their water and to upgrade the capacity of a municipal supply well.
Village officials meet with representatives from Honeywell International on March 23 to discuss the company’s efforts to address the PFOA contamination and negotiate a legal agreement with NYSDEC.
Despite PFOA never being detected in the water supply at the Hoosick Falls Central School, a property-specific carbon filtration system is installed as a preventative measure. School is closed from March 24 through March 28 to facilitate the installation. New York State provided funding for the system to be installed.
On March 30, NYSDOH lifts the "no-drink" advisory and determines Village residents "may use the water for any and all uses, including drinking or cooking." NYSDOH bases its determination on several rounds of water samples collected at the water treatment plant and throughout the distribution system. The results indicate non-detectable levels of PFOA since March 13, 2016.
In response to NYSDOH’s decision to lift the “no-drink” advisory, two local financial institutions reinstate programs to issue residential mortgages.
Village officials mail postcards to residents announcing NYSDOH’s decision to lift the “no-drink” advisory. Letters sent with quarterly water bills inform residents that the free bottled water program will continue at Tops Market as long as the temporary filtration system is operating. In addition, Village residents are notified that they will receive a six-month rebate on their water bills after the funds are provided to the Village by NYS.
Based on the results of dozens of soil samples, EPA determines there is no need for cleanup work at the Little League and athletic fields on Waterworks Road and Barton Avenue. EPA distributes a fact sheet on April 5 stating levels of PFOA and related compounds ranged from non-detect to 0.021 ppm, as compared with the EPA’s action level for PFOA in soil of 15.6 ppm. The complete results of EPA’s sampling program.
EPA releases a second fact sheet on April 5 announcing the Agency will collect soil samples from approximately one dozen residential properties near the Saint-Gobain McCaffrey Street facility. EPA will begin to contact residents to request access for the sampling, which will be performed this Spring. In addition, EPA will collect samples of soil, groundwater and storm drains from the McCaffrey Street facility.
Officials from the Town and Village and representatives of the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation meet on April 6 to discuss the potential of extending water and sewer lines south on Route 22 to the Hoosick Falls Central School and the Hoosac School. Village and Town officials will confer with engineers and school boards regarding project timing.
EPA Region 2 Administrator Judith Enck responds to questions posed by Village officials in a letter dated April 6. Ms. Enck clarifies that EPA will have a “consultative role with DEC” as Saint-Gobain and Honeywell undertake a Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study of the McCaffrey Street facility. Ms. Enck reports that EPA continues to gather data and other information so the Agency can evaluate the Saint-Gobain McCaffrey Street facility, and potential releases from the facility, for possible inclusion on the federal National Priorities List.
NYSDOH approves the engineering plans and specifications for a full capacity GAC treatment system at the municipal water treatment plant on April 6. Saint-Gobain informs the Village on April 9 that it is moving forward with purchasing the necessary equipment for the new system. Village officials place bid notices in local newspapers for construction, electrical and plumbing services for the full capacity system. Bid responses must be received by the Village clerk no later than May 6.
EPA updates its Hoosick Falls webpage on April 7 with the following: “The New York State Department of Health is the lead for addressing PFOA contamination in the water supply. The New York State Department of Health announced on March 30, 2016, that ‘repeated testing of the village of Hoosick Falls’ municipal water system shows non detection of Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and is now safe for all uses including drinking and cooking.”
Village officials provide an update on the water situation at the monthly Village board meeting on April 12. Representatives from NYDEC and NYSDOH attend to provide information and answer questions.
NYSDOH provides the Village with additional water sample results on April 12 that demonstrate the temporary carbon filtration system continues to effectively remove PFOA from the Village drinking water. As with previous testing, NYSDOH reports the analysis of samples from the filtration system as well as from locations in the distribution system had non-detectable levels of PFOA (less than 2 ppt.)
Village officials accept bids through May 4 for several contracts related to the installation and operation of a full capacity GAC treatment system at the municipal water treatment plant. A total of 23 bids were received and are being evaluated.
On May 5, EPA provides additional information about its previously-announced sampling program in areas near Saint-Gobain’s McCaffrey Street facility. EPA reports that several groundwater monitoring wells were installed within a 1/2-mile of the facility and soil samples were collected at 15 locations around the property. Groundwater sampling will be performed on May 9 and sampling of public supply wells on Waterworks Road is tentatively scheduled for May 23. In addition, EPA will collect soil samples at residential properties on Carey Avenue during the week of May 9.
NYSDOH and NYSDEC inform Town and Village officials on May 9 that the Town’s plan to drain water from the Town pool to the sanitary sewer, rinse the pool and refill it with GAC-treated municipal water prior to opening the pool for the season is acceptable. The agencies note that testing of the Village municipal water supply has “consistently shown that the GAC filtration system is removing PFOA to non-detectable levels.”
That same day, NYSDOH issues a Frequently Asked Questions fact sheet regarding pools and hot tubs. Village officials call representatives from NYSDEC, NYSDOH and the Governor’s Office to urge more specific actions to address the potential presence of PFOA in local pools and hot tubs.
Village officials provide an update on the water situation at the monthly Village board meeting on May 10. Representatives from NYDEC and NYSDOH attend to provide information and answer questions.
The next day, Congressman Chris Gibson asks the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to conduct an investigation into the state and federal response to the PFOA issue in Hoosick Falls and Petersburgh.
On May 12, Senator Charles Schumer calls on EPA to release updated drinking water guidelines for PFOA and PFOS-related contamination. EPA releases new guidelines on May 19 (see below).
On May 13, NYSDEC announces it has filed an emergency rule with the NYS Department of State to classify PFOA and PFOS as hazardous substances at the request of NYSDOH. Public comments on the emergency rule, which became temporarily effective on April 25, will be accepted through July 8, 2016.
Also on May 13, NYSDOH provides the Village with sampling results from the municipal water supply and distribution system collected on April 21. The results indicate that the “PFOA levels in all of these samples were below the reporting limit of 2 parts per trillion (ppt)… In summary, the results show that the GAC filters are effectively and consistently removing PFOA from the water and that the PFOA levels at locations in the Village distribution system are non-detectable.”
EPA announces on May 19 that it is replacing its 2009 provisional health advisory for PFOA with a new 2016 lifetime health advisory set at 70 parts per trillion. EPA says the new advisory level “offers a margin of protection for all Americans throughout their life from adverse health effects resulting from exposure to PFOA and PFOS in drinking water.” The advisory is non-enforceable and non-regulatory. If water sampling results confirm the presence of PFOA and/or PFOS in drinking water above 70 ppt, EPA recommends that water systems promptly notify their State drinking water safety agency and consult with the relevant agency on the best approach to conduct additional sampling. EPA’s fact sheet on the new lifetime advisory can be viewed here.
Additional sample results are provided to the Village from NYSDOH on May 25. The results of the sampling, collected on May 5, continue to demonstrate the ability of the temporary GAC treatment system to effectively remove PFOA from the municipal water supply and distribution system.
On May 31, NYSDOH releases an updated map showing sample results of water collected from private residential wells in the Town and Village.
NYSDEC officials finalize an agreement with Saint-Gobain and Honeywell International on June 3 whereby the companies will investigate PFOA contamination at their facilities in Hoosick Falls. The agreement, which solidifies several commitments Saint-Gobain already made to the Village, requires the companies to discuss reimbursement of the Village’s out-of-pocket expenses associated with the presence of PFOA in the Village’s drinking water supply.
The Village receives funds from New York State to reimburse local water users for past water usage. All reimbursement checks are processed and mailed to property owners by the end of the month.
NYSDOH mails the results of its PFOA blood testing program to participants in the study.
On June 8, NYSDOH provides the Village with sampling results from the municipal water supply and distribution system collected on May 19. The results indicate that the “PFOA levels in all of these samples were below the reporting limit of 2 parts per trillion (ppt)… In summary, the results show that the GAC filters are effectively and consistently removing PFOA from the water and that the PFOA levels at locations in the Village distribution system are non-detectable.”
Village officials provide an update on the water situation at the monthly Village board meeting on June 15. Representatives from NYDEC and NYSDOH attend to provide information and answer questions. The Village Board approves a resolution to conduct an engineering feasibility study, with the Town of Hoosick, to expand the municipal water system along Route 22 and possibly other nearby locations.
Another round of water sampling results are provided to the Village by NYSDOH on June 20. The results again indicate that the GAC treatment system is effectively removing PFOA from the municipal water supply.
NYSDEC holds three public hearings at the end of the month to receive public comment on its emergency adoption of a rule to classify PFOA and PFOS as hazardous substances. Public comments on the emergency rule, which became temporarily effective on April 25, will be accepted through July 8, 2016.
On June 24, Congressman Chris Gibson’s office provides the Village with a letter it received from NYSDOH on June 2. In April, Congressman Gibson sent NYSDOH a letter asking the Agency to conduct a health/cancer study of residents in Hoosick Falls and perform medical monitoring in the Village. In its response, NYSDOH reports it began an investigation of cancer rates in the Village in January and a blood testing project in February. NYSDOH also is producing a “health outcomes review presenting the comparative numbers of all cancers and specific types of cancer occurring among Hoosick Falls Village residents from 1995 through 2013.”
U.S. Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and Congressman Chris Gibson write a letter to the directors of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health asking the Agencies to “do all they can to help educate and assist” local residents in Hoosick Falls, Hoosick and Petersburgh about PFOA and exposure. This could include public meetings in the communities, providing public health experts and scientists to assist the state, and creating relevant online information sources, all to provide the best, most up-to-date information.
Village officials mail residents a letter informing them of the state’s agreement with Saint-Gobain and Honeywell and other issues.
On June 30, Mayor Borge meets by phone with state officials, Senator Marchione and supervisors from the towns of Hoosick and Petersburgh. State officials agree to fund the Town’s and Village’s feasibility study to expand the municipal water supply, at a cost of $46,000.
On July 5, contractors working at the Village water treatment plant cut the electrical supply to parts of the facility, disabling the plant’s ability to draw water from municipal supply wells. The contractors were relying on old mapping that did not accurately depict the presence of electrical conduit where they were working. As a result, Village officials implement water use restrictions to minimize non-critical use of municipal water until the situation is resolved. The restrictions are lifted on July 11.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee sends letters to Governor Cuomo and the EPA, dated July 6, requesting “any and all information related to PFOA contamination in Hoosick Falls.” The information will assist the committee in understanding “how and why state officials failed to remediate the health crisis in Hoosick Falls.”
New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie announces on July 6 that the Assembly will hold two water quality hearings in September. Specific dates for the hearings are not released, but the events will be held in Albany and Suffolk County.
On July 7, Mayor Borge submits comments to NYSDEC in support of the Department’s proposed amendments to 6 NYCRR Part 597: Hazardous Substances Identification Release Prohibition and Release Reporting. The comments support classification of PFOA and PFOS as hazardous substances. The comments also urge New York State to adopt two measures: establish a state maximum contaminant level for PFOA and PFOS in drinking water and require public water supplies to test for presence of the chemicals. The comments conclude by stating that without these measures, confusion and potential panic are likely to occur when new communities discover hazardous chemicals in their municipalities, like the community of Hoosick Falls.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand holds a roundtable discussion with local residents on July 8. At the event, state Senator Kathy Marchione announces the state Senate will hold hearings in August in Hoosick Falls.
Representatives from Honeywell International inform Village and Town officials, and residents, that they have begun to evaluate conditions at two properties where PFOA may have been used during former manufacturing activities — the John Street facility located at 3 Lyman Street and the River Road Complex in the Town of Hoosick.
NYSDEC informs Village officials that samples of groundwater and leachate collected from the closed, Village-owned solid waste landfill in the Town of Hoosick indicate the presence of elevated levels of PFOA. NYSDEC subsequently provides the Village with a letter dated July 22 that states: “Based upon nearby private well and Hoosic River sampling results, the elevated PFOA levels at the landfill do not appear to be impacting either the Village public drinking water supply or private wells in the vicinity.” NYSDEC is continuing its investigation.
School Superintendent Ken Facin sends Village officials a letter, dated July 18, supporting an extension of municipal water and sewer lines to the school campus.
Governor Cuomo signs legislation extending the statute of limitations for personal injury claims related to pollution at Superfund sites.
On July 22, Senator Chuck Schumer sends EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy a letter asking the Agency to nominate the Saint-Gobain McCaffrey Street site for the federal National Priorities List.
A doctor from Mount Sinai meets with residents on July 30 to discuss health concerns related to exposure to PFOA. According to NYSDOH, Mount Sinai is providing independent technical expertise and consultation services to NYSDOH.
On August 3, NYSDOH provides the Village with results from June 16th and July 14th sampling events that “show that the GAC filters are effectively and consistently removing PFOA and other PFCs from the water, and that the PFOA levels at locations in the Village distribution system are non-detectable.” Additional data is received from a July 28th sampling round on August 8. All results data are posted here.
Representatives from NYSDOH and NYSDEC hold a public session on August 4 to discuss the latest results of its blood monitoring program and Superfund investigation.
Officials from NYSDOH and NYSDEC attend the monthly board meeting where a water update is provided. Representatives from MRB Group, the Village’s engineering consulting firm, provide information on the progress of its feasibility study to evaluate extending municipal water and wastewater treatment to Town of Hoosick residents and the Route 22 corridor.
The New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation commits to funding the cost of the water and wastewater extension feasibility studies, in a letter received by the Village on August 11. If Saint-Gobain or Honeywell agree to reimburse the Village for these costs, the Village agrees to provide the reimbursement to New York State.
A map of NYSDOH’s latest private well sampling results is received on August 11. The map is posted here.
On August 12, the New York State Senate announces it will hold a legislative hearing in Hoosick Falls on August 30 to examine PFOA drinking water contamination in the Village.
The state Assembly and Senate announce on August 16 that joint legislative hearings will be held in September to discuss water quality and the state’s response to PFOA.
NYSDEC notifies the Village by letter dated August 29 that the Village-owned closed municipal landfill on Route 22 has been classified as a “potential inactive hazardous waste disposal site” due to the presence of PFOA. As a result NYSDEC initiates an investigation of the site. The letter is posted on the Village web site.
Village Mayor Dave Borge presents testimony at the New York State Senate public hearing on August 30 at Hoosick Falls Central School District. NYSDEC and NYSDOH issue a letter to EPA prior to the public hearing asking EPA to reimburse the state’s costs for its investigations into PFOA, should the costs not be reimbursed by Saint-Gobain, Honeywell and/or Taconic Industries.
EPA sends a letter to New York State responding to its request that it reimburse the state’s costs for its investigations into PFOA, should the costs not be reimbursed by Saint-Gobain, Honeywell and/or Taconic Industries.
Saint-Gobain takes over the management of bottled water deliveries to the elderly and those unable to obtain water from Top’s Market.
On September 6, NYSDOH provides the Village with results from August 11 and August 25 sampling events that “show that the GAC filters are effectively and consistently removing PFOA and other PFCs from the water, and that the PFOA levels at locations in the Village distribution system are non-detectable.” The data is posted on the Testing page.
Village Mayor Dave Borge presents testimony at the New York State Senate and New York State Assembly joint public hearing on September 7 in Albany. Another hearing is held on Long Island on November 12.
EPA proposes adding the Saint-Gobain McCaffrey Street facility to its Superfund National Priorities List of the country’s most hazardous waste sites on September 7. EPA is accepting public comments on the potential listing through November 8, 2016.
Also on September 7, NYSDEC and NYSDOH send a letter to EPA asking the Obama administration to conduct more thorough testing of water systems that serve fewer than 10,000 people. The next day, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand introduces an amendment to the Water Resources Development Act requiring EPA to expand water testing for unregulated contaminants in public water systems.
The Rensselaer County Legislature unanimously approves three PFOA-related resolutions asking for a federal tax credit for residents of Hoosick, Hoosick Falls and Petersburgh; establishment of a national PFOA standard; and creation of a database and public information site to keep residents informed of remediation efforts in these communities.
On September 20, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand asks the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to use its authority to immediately conduct a public health assessment of the Saint-Gobain site, Hoosick Falls and surrounding communities. According to Sen. Gillibrand, such an assessment would allow the CDC to do the comprehensive review necessary to develop a public health action plan to address the environmental situation in Hoosick Falls and elsewhere.
NYSDEC initiates a study to collect and analyze fish from the Hoosic River in Hoosick Falls, the Little Hoosic River in Petersburgh and other waterways found to be contaminated with PFOA or PFOS. The study will provide an initial assessment of the potential bioaccumulation and risk posed by these and other perfluorinated compounds, or PFCs. The study will take 11 months to complete.
On October 3, 2016, the Village is notified by the Rensselaer County DOH that a procedural error occurred while a routine sampling for coliform was performed. This resulted in a formal violation letter dated September 28, being sent to the Village. The letter was posted on the Testing page. All subsequent sampling results were negative.
On October 14, 2016 PFOA sampling results were received from NYSDOH for September 8 and continue to be less than 1 part per trillion (PPT). Data posted on the Testing page.
On October 24, 2016 a joint Town/Village public hearing was held at the Town Hall to seek public comment on whether or not to support the McCaffrey Street site (owned and operated by Saint-Gobain) to be listed on the National Priority List (NPL). EPA, NYSDOH, NYSDEC, Rens Co DOH, state, county and elected local representatives were in attendance. The consensus was to support inclusion on the NPL.
On October 28, 2016, NYSDOH notified the Village that based on significantly fewer individuals stopping at the Armory, NYSDOH would be reducing their hours at the Armory. The change in hours was posted on the Village web site.
On October 29, 2016, NYSDOH conducted a scheduled blood draw for approximately 150 people at the Armory.
On October 31, 2016 PFOA sampling results are received for 9/22 & 10/6. This data was posted on the Testing page.
On November 1, NYSDOH provided the sampling results for Septemer 22 and October 6 samplings. All results were non-detect and posted on the Village Web site.
As of November 5, 2016, NYSDOH informed the Village that it was reducing its presence at the Armory to Tuesdays from 6-8pm and Saturday from 10 -12 noon due to a significant decrease in attendance by the public.
On November 17, the Village recieved the testing results for October 30, and November 3 from NYSDOH. The results indicate that the filters continue to work as designed as the results are non-detect. The results can be found here.
On November 22, the Town Supervisor and Village Mayor met with the Director of State Operations, the NYS Commissioners of DOH and DEC, Senator Marchione and other staff in the Governor’s Office to review the status of the progress to date. It was a lengthy and detailed discussion with positive results, not only with the construction of the full capacity GAC filtration system, enforcement of the Consent Order, a commitment to assist with economic development for the area, as well as with broadband, but also encouraging news regarding the status of an alternative water source for the Village Municipal Water System. This process for determining an alternative water source takes time, however it is moving forward
On November 23, NYSDEC provided a summary of their results involving Hoosick & Petersburgh Regional Ground Water and Sediment Testing. This document was posted on the Village web site.
On December 30th, the installed full-capacity GAC system was brought on line to filter water for the Village municipal system. The temporary GAC filtration system is still connected and filtering water as well. Based on sampling results, NYSDOH will notify the Village when the temporary GAC system can be disconnected.
On January 3, water sampling results from 11-17, 11-28, 12-1 & 12-8 were received from the NYS DEC and were posted on the Village website. The New York State Senate Report on Water Quality & contamination was released to the public.
On January 9, a DRAFT Agreement between SG and Honeywell and the Village of Hoosick Falls was released to the public for review and was posted on web site.
On January 12, a Special Village Board Meeting to hear public comments on DRAFT Agreement was held at the HAYC3 Armory.
On January 20, water sampling results from December 15 were received from NYS DEC and posted on Village web site.
On January 24, a Q&A document prepared by Village counsel addressing public comments from Jan 12 Special Board meeting was posted on the Village web site.
On February 8, the Village was notified that Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) were discovered at a former manufacturing site on lower John Street as the result of the on-going investigation for contaminants by Honeywell Corporation and supervised by DEC.
On February 14, at the regularly scheduled Village Board meeting which was held at the Armory, representatives from Honeywell gave a public presentation regarding the nature of the VOC's and the plans for remediation at no financial cost to local property owners. There was a large turnout for the presentation and it was well received by the public.
At a special Village Board meeting on February 27, 2017 held at the Armory, the Board voted to table the proposed agreement between the Village and SG & Honeywell which would reimburse the Village for costs related to the PFOA contamination. The Board also voted to approve initiating the process to borrow funds to cover these costs which at the time were estimated at $850,000.
On March 10 water sampling results from December, January, and February were received from NYS DEC and were posted on the Village website.
On March 14, at the regularly-scheduled Village Board meeting, in the absence of an agreement with Saint Gobain and Honneywell, the board agreed to pursue funding options to cover the costs incured by the Village as related to the PFOA contamination.