Suspected contamination source: Firefighting foam used at Stewart Air National Guard Base (AP, 2016)
In 2014, PFOS was detected in Lake Washington, the city’s drinking water supply, at 170 ppt, below the 400 ppt limit then recommended by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. When the EPA set a new level of 70 ppt for short-term exposure in May 2016, the city manager declared an emergency (AP, 2016). The source of contamination was determined to be PFOS-containing firefighting foam used at Stewart Air National Guard Base for training and emergency purposes. The state stepped in to assist with and fund the city’s hookup to the Catskill Aqueduct for a longer term, temporary water source amid the design and construction of a filtration system, which it also will fund. The filtration system was due to be running in the fall of 2017 (Dunne, 2016).
“The City’s new 1.2M-gallon above-ground contact tank was put into service on February 17, 2017 allowing for the demolition of the former 1.0M-gallon clear well, and start of the GAC treatment system construction. Construction of the GAC treatment system has progressed rapidly. Eighteen 40,000-pound carbon vessels were delivered to the site and set in the new GAC treatment building by mid-July 2017 and the building was completed by mid-October. Work is in the final stages on piping, electrical, mechanical, control systems and auxiliary systems, many of which are completed. The GAC system shake-down period began January 5, 2018 using Catskill Aqueduct water to break-in the carbon vessels and refine operating procedures; flushing and break-in is anticipated to continue through the end of February.” (NY DEC)
State officials launched an ambitious effort to offer blood tests to Newburgh’s 28,000 residents in 2016. The State Department of Health’s Director Dr. Nathan Graber later clarified that the free blood testing would not be confined solely to City of Newburgh residents, but anyone who was likely exposed to PFOS.
In response to the water crises in Hoosick Falls and Petersburgh, and upon the recommendation of the DOH, the DEC instituted an Emergency Rulemaking officially declaring that PFOS is a hazardous substance. The change in state law, which took effect on April 25, 2016, allows the DEC to regulate the handling and storage of PFOS and it also allows the state to remediate contaminated sites under NY superfund law.
PFOS at Stewart Air National Guard Base
Soil: 0 – 5,620 ppt
Groundwater Monitoring Wells: 0 – 3,160 ppt
Surface Water: 60 – 5,900 ppt
Lake Washington: 243 ppt
Silver Stream: 0 – 12 ppt
- 2016 PFOS Contamination Water Crisis Update – City of Newburgh
- PFOS in Drinking Water in Newburgh Area
- Newburgh Drinking Water Crisis
- Exposure and health survey
- Stewart Air National Guard Base Superfund Site Description
- Newburgh: DEC and DOH Timeline of Activities
- Stewart International Airport PFAS Sampling Report 2016
- 2016: A Look Back At Newburgh PFOS Water Contamination
- Contaminated water scare hits Newburgh, New York
- View recent Newburgh news here
- Newburgh residents fear health effects of toxic water