State health commissioner, Dr. Howard Zucker, the man who cited his non-existent kids to help Governor Cuomo squash fracking in New York, suddenly got cold feet when asked about a water contamination scandal that is currently plaguing an upstate town.
Perhaps if his imaginary children had to drink the water, he’d sing a different tune.
After testifying for hours during a budget meeting, Zucker scurried away while “his staff physically blocked three reporters who repeatedly tried to ask the commissioner” about water issues in Hoosick Falls.
Via Capital New York:
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State health commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker tried to avoid questions Monday about why the state did not warn residents in upstate Hoosick Falls that the village water supply was contaminated until after the federal Environmental Protection Agency intervened.
After testifying for four hours on unrelated health issues during a state budget meeting, Zucker quickly left the hearing room and his staff physically blocked three reporters who repeatedly tried to ask the commissioner about the water problems in the Rensselear County community. Finally, as he was whisked to his office, Zucker said, “We’ve done a tremendous amount. We didn’t change our position. We said right from the beginning, we’d evaluate.”
According to the EPA, a factory in Hoosick Falls that for decades produced Teflon-coated materials may have polluted the village water supply with perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, a toxic chemical used in non-stick cookware, stain-resistant carpets and packaging. The federal agency is investigating whether the chemical may have seeped into village wells when workers cleaned smokestack filters and other equipment at the factory, which has been owned by Saint-Gobain since 1999.
Last year the state health department issued a ‘fact sheet’ indicating that “health effects are not expected to occur from normal use of the water.” This was within days of a declaration by the EPA which advised the residents of Hoosick Falls not to drink or cook with the water.
The Times Union provides an excellent timeline of events involving the Hoosick Falls contaminated water crisis.
Zucker referred to a family he doesn’t actually have when he spoke about fracking’s potential risks to public health and the environment in 2014. He recommended a ban, which Governor Cuomo took into consideration because of Zucker’s “sobering” report.
Now when faced with tangible evidence of water contamination in Hoosick Falls, Zucker and the Health Department told residents there would be no detrimental health effects.