Residents of Hoosick Falls and lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have been demanding answers as to what happened when state and local officials failed to notify the public about high levels of a cancer-causing chemical known as PFOA in their water supply.
Now it seems, they’re finally going to get some.
Concerned citizens finally received welcome news yesterday, when Democratic leadership in the State Assembly suddenly reversed course and agreed to hold hearings to examine the state’s response to the water crisis.
While the State Assembly finally agreed to hold hearings, they may have been prodded to do so by a higher entity.
The House Oversight Committee on Government Reform issued a letter – also yesterday – to Governor Cuomo demanding documents, indicating they too intend to probe the Hoosick Falls water crisis.
Via the Times Union:
The U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform sent letters to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday demanding documents for a pending congressional probe into the handling of the Hoosick Falls’ water crisis.
The House committee’s investigation cites Times Union articles and other reports that officials at all levels of government, including the state and Rensselaer County health departments, as well as the EPA, were aware for at least a year that a dangerous chemical had polluted the village’s water system but did not warn residents to stop drinking the water.
In December, Judith Enck, the regional administrator for the EPA, which was notified of the water pollution in December 2014, sent a letter to Hoosick Falls Mayor David Borge demanding that he stop telling residents the water was safe to drink. But Borge said he was relying on advice from the state health department, which issued “fact sheets” to residents that month stating no adverse health effects were expected from normal use of the village’s water.
The state Health Department took its position on the water’s safety despite a widely reported health study that linked the chemical in the village’s water, PFOA, to kidney cancer and other diseases. The EPA issued an advisory in 2009 warning that short-term exposure to water containing PFOA is not safe at levels above 400 parts per trillion. The village’s water system recorded levels at more than 600 ppt in August 2014.
Last month, reports surfaced indicating the Cuomo administration tried to subvert information about the village’s poisoned water supply.
Documents obtained by Politico show the New York State Department of Health dismissing warnings from the EPA, and refusing to alert residents of the very dangerous situation.
Over a year ago, health department officials issued a ‘fact sheet’ indicating that “health effects are not expected to occur from normal use of the water” within days of a contradictory declaration by the EPA which advised residents not to drink or cook with the water.
According to a senior EPA official’s handwritten notes from a phone conference with state officials, Health Department employees “argued that their differences with the federal authorities were a matter of ‘philosophy’ and not just science.
Politico’s analysis revealed that “hundreds of people, from babies to the elderly, have a dangerous level of toxic chemical in their blood stream.”
The administration and city officials knew residents were being poisoned and the children were disproportionately effected as they “seem to be displaying far higher numbers than their parents.”
As reporter Scott Waldman explains, there are children in Hoosick Falls with chemicals in their blood who would be perfectly healthy if not for state and local officials covering up the crisis.
There are babies in Hoosick Falls w/high PFOA levels, who would have none if state and local govt warned properly https://t.co/3SHvltDK3G
— Scott Waldman (@scottpwaldman) June 8, 2016
Senate Health Committee Chair Kemp Hannon, actually claimed ignorance on the Hoosick Falls water crisis which has been ongoing for years now.
“I haven’t heard,” Hannon told CBS 6 reporters. “That’s not my district and no one has written so I don’t know if what you’re saying is accurate or not.”
You can view the letter from the House Oversight Committee on Government Reform to Governor Cuomo below …