History of manufacturing in Hoosick Falls could relate to water issue

HOOSICK FALLS, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The town of Hoosick historian has taken a look back at the history of manufacturing in Hoosick Falls and how that could be linked to the village’s water contamination issue.

Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics is the company at the center of the water contamination in the village of Hoosick Falls. But the town of Hoosick historian said it’s important to remember what was in the village decades ago and that what was manufactured could be integral to the investigation.

“First of all, Hoosick Falls was always loaded with manufacturing,” historian Philip Leonard said. “We had the largest paper mat factory.”

Leonard wanted to revisit the past after he learned Hoosick Falls’ water supply and some private Hoosick wells were contaminated with the chemical PFOA.

“Water department checks water, but they never checked for [PFOA] because the government said ‘you don’t have to check for that,’” he said.

In 2014, water near Saint-Gobain tested positive for unsafe levels of PFOA. But Leonard said four other companies have operated out of the McCaffrey Street site located in the village.

Leonard said Dodge Fibers bought the plant in 1955. In 1967, it was purchased by Oak. A company called Allied Signal took over the site in 1986, and Furon took ownership in 1997. Saint-Gobain purchased the plant in 1999 and still owns it.

Leonard said they all have one thing in common.

“They all were using Teflon; all of them,” he said.

PFOA is used to make Teflon, but how the chemical contaminated the water supply is still under investigation. County, state and federal agencies are searching to determine the source of the contamination and who caused it.

Environmental lawyer Meave Tooher said Saint-Gobain may not be held responsible even though it is the current owner.

“Until they determine where the contamination came from, it’s very difficult to know what it means for Saint-Gobain,” she said.

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