Read the full article by Leonard Sparks

“WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Senate approved a $45 million appropriation that will allow the Air Force and National Guard to reimburse the City of Newburgh, the state of New York and other municipalities for expenses related to the contamination of public drinking water from the use of firefighting foams at military facilities.

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand announced Wednesday that they successfully included an amendment for the reimbursement fund in a 2019 spending bill for the Defense Department.

Washington Lake, Newburgh’s primary water supply, has been closed since May 2016 due to high levels of PFOS, one of the chemicals found in firefighting foam. An investigation concluded that the contamination came from the use of the foams at Stewart Air National Guard Base.

Contamination from PFAS, the class of chemicals that includes PFOS and PFOA, was also found in private wells near Gabreski Air Force Base in Suffolk County.

The House of Representatives must still approve the appropriation before it is final.

‘Communities all across New York State deserve to be repaid for the actions they took to respond to the contamination of their water supplies and private wells due to toxic PFOS contamination that originated on nearby airbases like Gabreski and Stewart,’ Schumer said.

New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation has spent nearly $39 million responding to PFOS contamination at Stewart Air Base and nearly $2 million in response to contamination from PFOA and PFOS at Gabreski.

The DEC’s Newburgh costs include $22 million for a new filtration system designed to eliminate the chemicals from the city’s water and nearly $6 million spent between June 2016 and this past February to reimburse the city for purchases from New York City’s Catskill Aqueduct.

The state Department of Health has spent nearly $1.4 million through February on a blood-testing program for Newburgh-area residents exposed to the chemicals.

‘We urge Congress to preserve this new funding in the final appropriations package and ensure the federal government is active player in these communities,’ DEC and DOH said in a statement.”