Imagine your tap water making you and your family sick. Now, imagine that your government knew there was a problem with the water but waited over a year and a half to tell anyone.
For residents of Hoosick Falls, NY, this is their terrifying reality. Just like those in Flint, Michigan, Hoosick Falls residents continued to drink and use poisoned water in their homes even after their state government knew about the contamination. We need to tell state legislators to get to the bottom of this.
Hoosick Falls, a small community northeast of Albany, has become the epicenter of growing concerns around perfluorooctanic acid (PFOA). This industrial chemical, used to make Teflon, among other things, is a known carcinogen and causes a litany of other negative health effects. The source of the contamination appears to be a nearby Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics factory.
Blood test results in recent weeks showed that some Hoosick Falls residents have 100 times the PFOA in their blood as the national average.
This is an urgent public health crisis, and the state has been dragging its feet.
Many are furious that there haven't been public hearings to investigate the state's response and to answer why the Cuomo administration waited a year and a half to alert the public. Speaker Carl Heastie has announced there will be Assembly hearings this fall, but it's time for the Senate to follow suit. We need legislative hearings now.
Obviously, it's going to take more than hearings to solve this problem. Ultimately, we need a rigorous testing system to monitor PFOA, not only in Hoosick Falls but across the state. We also need a real plan to provide the residents of Hoosick Falls with an entirely new municipal water supply.
Hoosick Falls residents and all New Yorkers deserve clean water.
To date there has been some modest progress on dealing with this problem. The legislature passed a bill this session that makes it easier for those harmed by PFOA contamination to sue those responsible. And Speaker Heastie’s decision to finally hold water quality hearings is a positive step. He must follow through on that promise, and Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan should schedule Senate hearings as well. More recently, Congress has shown an interest in looking into the Cuomo Administration’s handling of the crisis.
None of this is enough, though. To understand how to move forward, we must have legislative hearings to understand exactly what went wrong in the state’s response to this urgent public health crisis. How are we to avoid similar situations in the future if we don't know what happened?
A year and a half is too long for any New Yorker to drink poisoned water. Take action today to urge our elected leaders to hold hearings on the Hoosick Falls water crisis today.