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NY Post: State admits staff knew Hoosick Falls water was dangerous

By Kirstan Conley, September 7

ALBANY — Under intense grilling at a legislative hearing, state Health Commissioner Howard Zucker admitted Wednesday he and his staff knew for years that a chemical in the water in Hoosick Falls was a danger to residents, but didn’t sound the alarm.

“Yes,” Zucker relented when asked repeatedly by Assemblyman Richard Gottfried (D-Manhattan) if his agency was aware of information “it took [resident] Mike Hickey five minutes on Google to find.”

Gottfried pointed to a fact sheet issued by the Health Department in December 2015 stating residents of the upstate village had nothing to fear.

“There’s a ‘Q and A’ where it says are health effects expected given the PFOA levels found in Hoosick Falls’ public water system and the answer to that sentence is a one-word sentence: “No,” Gottfried said.

PFOA is shorthand for perfluorooctanoic acid, a toxic chemical first found in Hoosick’s water supply in 2014 by Hickey, a former village trustee whose father died of cancer.

“How could the department say that, given all the information that the department had . . . given EPA’s statement, in a health advisory that said you shouldn’t drink the water in Hoosick Falls?” Gottfried asked Zucker.

“When you have a health advisory that’s put into place, You don’t put a health advisory in where the health effects occur at the level of the advisory,” said Zucker, adding that even though the levels of PFOA were over 400 parts per trillion, that would have been within the margin.

He also said the state worked as quickly as possible to get bottled water to residents.

That left Gottfried scratching his head.

“If you were pressing for bottled water and filtration, it was for a reason, you were concerned about something,” he said.

Not coincidentally, Gov. Cuomo picked Wednesday to call on the federal government to set new national water standards for towns under 10,000.

As the hearing was underway, the federal government moved closer to designating contaminated areas of the village as a proposed Superfund site.