Produced by: Andrew Auger, Madison Herley and Heather Mezynski
U.S. Representative Sean Patrick Maloney joins neighbors at St. Lukes Cornwall Hospital to get tested for PFOS and PFOA exposure.
NEWBURGH – Following the release of the first round of blood test results for Newburgh residents concerned about PFOS and PFOA exposure from drinking contaminated water, Representative Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18) announced that he will introduce The Investing in Testing Act, which will require the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to conduct a two-year study into the long-term health effects of this exposure. Many residents tested above the national average for PFOS and PFOA, but there is little data on the chemical’s impact on human health.
According to U.S. Representative Sean Patrick Maloney, “Getting these tests done was an important first step, but we have to keep the ball rolling and find out what it really means to be above the national average. My bill will get the CDC moving on a study that will get us these answers and help us figure out what the next steps are.”
According to New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker, “New York, like many other states nationwide, faces the stark reality of legacy pollution that threatens access to clean drinking water. To address this issue, Governor Cuomo launched the Water Quality Rapid Response team to take aggressive actions to safeguard our water supplies and hold polluters accountable. The governor has also proposed an unprecedented $2 billion in this year’s budget to upgrade our outdated water infrastructure across the state. This issue is not just limited to New York – it’s a national issue that demands national leadership. We join Maloney in urging the federal government to provide the necessary funding to help us better understand these contaminants and their potential impact on the public’s health.”
Since abnormally and unacceptably high levels of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) were found in Newburgh’s water supply, Rep. Maloney has worked with local, state and federal officials to call for an immediate investigation, hold those responsible accountable, and ensure residents in Newburgh have a clean water source without placing the financial burden on the City. After the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) declared Stewart Air National Guard (ANG) base a state Superfund site, Representative Maloney (NY-18) called on the Department of Defense (DoD) to comply with the DEC’s request for a federal remediation program. Immediately after declaring Stewart ANG base an Inactive Hazardous Waste Disposal Site (Class 2), more commonly referred to as a state Superfund site, DEC sent a letter to DoD requesting that they enter into a legally binding agreement to carry out a remediation program with the state and bear some of the cost. Following this request, Rep. Maloney sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, requesting expeditious compliance with this request and “a commitment from the Department of Defense to develop, implement, and finance a Remedial Program for the contamination site.” On September 20, Maloney and state officials announced the launch of the New York State Department of Health’s biomonitoring program for Newburgh. In addition to hundreds of Newburgh residents, Maloney received his results as part of the round of blood test results released last week.
On May 19, Rep. Maloney called on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to immediately set a clear national standard for acceptable levels of PFOA and PFOS in drinking water. Rep. Maloney also renewed calls for the EPA to provide immediate material assistance to the City of Newburgh to remediate the contamination. On May 13, Rep. Maloney called on the DoD to immediately conduct an investigation into the likely source of the pollution – Stewart Air National Guard Base. In addition to calling for a review of the source of the contaminant, Rep. Maloney asked the DoD to ensure total remediation for the City of Newburgh. On June 8, after a strong push, Rep. Maloney announced that the DoD added Stewart ANG base to their review list and made the investigation into Newburgh water contamination a first priority. After initial reports of contamination in the City of Newburgh water, Rep. Maloney and Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand wrote a letter to the EPA calling for immediate assistance to determine the source of the contamination, test contaminant levels, and formulate a remediation plan.