By Rich Davenport, published December 4, 2021, updated 12/5/2021
On December 3, 2021, NYSDEC announced the final plan to provide permanent clean drinking water sources for the Village of Hoosick Falls, NY has been approved, marking the latest milestone in a saga that began in 2015, when lifelong Hoosick Falls resident Michael Hickey discovered the PFAS family contaminant PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) showed in high levels in the village’s drinking water, prompting several class-action lawsuits resulting in several settlements and the compulsory studies to determine a solution to this terrible discovery.
A preliminary settlement was reached over the summer 2021 concerning a class-action lawsuit filed in 2016, which alleged several players, including Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics and Honeywell Corporation – and later 3M and DuPont Chemical – all played roles in the decades-long pollution of the village’s water supplies, coming from several manufacturing facilities located in the village, and their use of these PFAS chemicals.
The $65 MIL settlement would provide for immediate financial compensation for property owners, while establishing a 10-year medical monitoring program for the early detection of PFOA-related exposure conditions, including cancers. Additional stipulations compelled studies be conducted to determine the best way to restore clean drinking water for residents, and based on the results of this New York State Superfund study, whose final report was released December 2020, and formed the basis for the final action plan.
According to the DEC press release, elements of the clean drinking water restoration plan includes finding a new water source outside the contamination area, and implementation of Granular Activated Carbon (GAC) filters to fully protect public health.
The release of the final Record of Decision to advance the new, permanent drinking water source follows the release of the Proposed Remedial Action Plan for public comment in April 2021, and a close review of the input DEC and the state Department of Health (DOH) received on the proposed plan. The final ROD includes:
- Developing two new groundwater supply wells. Existing test wells south of Hoosick Falls will be converted to production wells;
- Retaining one existing village well. Redundancy is required in the case of an outage of the primary wells;
- Constructing a water transmission line from the new wells to the village water treatment plant along public rights of way;
- Continued operation of the public water supply treatment plant to remove naturally occurring elements, and ensure disinfection and distribution to meet applicable water supply requirements; and
- Retaining the existing GAC treatment system to ensure removal of ambient organic compounds.
The full Record of Decision can be obtained from the NYSDEC website, and officials from both NYSDEC and NYS Dept of Health continue to provide updates to Hoosick Falls village residents to the progress of remediation and corrective action, as well as remaining engaged with the Hoosick Area Community Participation Workgroup to the progress of the PFOA cleanup work.
PFOA, and another related chemical, PFOS, have recently been the subject of significant concern across many parts of the Nation, with discoveries of these PFAS chemicals contaminating water supplies for town and villages, recently Mayville, NY, and the detection of high levels in wild whitetail deer, prompting “eat none” orders in both Maine and Michigan. Additionally, many PFAS contamination sites have been discovered, numbering over 2,800 different sites across the 50 States and 2 territories of the United States, as of October 2021. The organization Environmental Working Group (EWG) has published an interactive PFAS Contamination Map, noting where high levels of these contaminants are present, which includes Military Sites, Drinking Water and Other Known Sites with detailed information on specific PFAS chemicals detected and levels discovered through testing.