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“Albany – Despite being convening nearly a year ago, and with an October 2 deadline looming, the state’s Drinking Water Quality Council has yet to make any recommendations for Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) for toxic chemicals like PFOA, PFOS and 1,4-dioxane in drinking water. Governor Cuomo, who has the power to direct the Department of Health to move forward on regulating these chemicals, has yet to make any announcements.
PFOA, PFOS, and 1,4-dioxane, which can cause several types of cancer and other diseases, have harmed communities from Long Island to Hoosick Falls. The only way to ensure every New York community is safe from these dangerous chemicals – meaning every water supply is tested and response protocols are in place – is to establish MCLs.Today, organizations, labor, medical professionals, and residents from the impacted communities of Hoosick Falls and Newburgh called on Governor Cuomo to establish MCLs immediately.
Liz Moran, water & natural resources director for Environmental Advocates of New York said, ‘The state can’t keep passing the buck on clean water. More than 1,000 days have passed since the residents of Hoosick Falls learned their drinking water was contaminated with PFOA. The only way to prevent future Hoosick Falls’ scenarios is to address the very chemicals polluting people’s water. Too much time has passed – New Yorkers deserve clean water safeguards now.’
Cathy Dawson, Hoosick Falls resident and NYWaterProject member said, ‘As a nurse, when someone comes to me and my colleagues for help, we don’t wait to treat them. We jump into action and do what is necessary. Now while it’s true that Governor Cuomo isn’t a nurse, he is an elected official and is expected to do everything in his power to keep our water safe to drink. Unfortunately, by putting off setting low MCLs for the toxic chemicals that my family drank for years, he’s not meeting that basic expectation. For too long, thousands of New Yorkers have been waiting for Governor Cuomo to jump into action and protect our drinking water.’
Connie Plouffe, a resident of Petersburgh and member of the NYWaterProject said, ‘Our Governor is dragging his feet when it comes to clean water. As time goes by, more families could be putting themselves in danger just by turning on the tap. There is enough research and evidence to show that these chemicals are, and continue to be, a clear and present danger to our environment and to anyone exposed to them. For residents like me and my family, this is truly frightening. Other states have taken the lead to lower their guidance levels below EPA’s advisory level of 70 ppt – why hasn’t New York?’
Mary Wagner, Newburgh resident and member of the Newburgh Clean Water Project said, ‘As Newburgh residents, we are devastated by the fact that our drinking water has been contaminated by at least 12 different PFAS chemicals and that our city of nearly 30,000 residents has been exposed to these cancer-causing substances, presumably since the 1990s. We personally have friends and family members dealing with sudden-onset kidney failure and child development issues that may be linked to this poisoning. Our current access to NYC’s Catskill Aqueduct is a stopgap measure and our future water source is yet to be determined. Meanwhile our watershed—outside of our jurisdiction—is paved over with impermeable shopping plaza parking lots at a huge detriment to our ecosystem. We are working to restore our watershed and access to clean drinking water for current and future generations and will hold businesses and governments at all levels accountable. We encourage New York State to take a lead in classifying PFAS chemicals as toxic and enforce a strict maximum contaminant level (MCL) in line with recommendations from the CDC. Nothing short of our health and economic wellbeing are at stake. We urge Governor Cuomo to make this—the fight for our basic human right to clean water—a priority.’ …
Howard A. Freed, MD, former director of the Center for Environmental Health at the New York State Department of Health said, ‘Compared to nearby states, DOH has allowed New Yorkers to drink much higher levels of PFOA and other toxins. Unfortunately, that tendency to always minimize risk is a pattern of behavior that is doomed to fail the people of New York. The largest study ever done on the health effects of PFOA concluded that it is more likely than not that PFOA causes human disease, including kidney and testicular cancer. The Department of Health should not wait for what they consider conclusive proof of harm, especially when the conclusions of the largest study ever done is not enough proof for them.’ …
In an effort to address current, and prevent future, water contamination crises statewide, Governor Cuomo and the legislature joined together to create the Drinking Water Quality Council, appointing members in September of 2017.The Council was charged with providing recommendations to establish MCLs for potentially toxic chemicals which have been discovered in drinking water in communities from Hoosick Falls to Long Island. The first meeting was on Long Island on October 2, 2017, with two subsequent meetings occurring in November 2017 and February 2018.
The last scheduled Council meeting has been postponed since March 19. By statute, the state must give their recommendations one year following their first meeting, which is now less than one week away.”