HOOSICK FALLS, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The New York State Department of Health has announced that the water in Hoosick Falls is safe for all uses, including drinking and cooking.
The department announced the water tested with PFOA levels around two parts per trillion.
The clean water is at least in part thanks to Michael Hickey.
“It’s a big step; don’t get me wrong,” he said. “And I’m very happy about that, but there was a lot of things that go along with a problem like this.”
Hickey is the whistleblower who began digging into PFOA contamination after his factory-worker father died of cancer. Despite the drinking ban lifted, he said trust with the state and village is broken, and rebuilding it will take time.
“I think people are still going to be pretty hesitant just by the way this all occurred,” he said. “Really being questionable the whole time.”
Some village residents said they won’t ever drink the water again.
“I don’t believe it’s safe,” resident William Dooley said. “I mean, if somebody lied to you before, what’s the chances of them lying again.”
Dooley has lived in the village his entire life and believes officials were not forthcoming when they first knew of the contamination.
“Who knows what’s good for you and what isn’t,” he said. “Do they sit down and drink a whole bunch of PFOAs at a desk? I don’t think so. Just because you feed it to a lab rat that weighs ounces compared to a person that weighs 200 pounds is a big difference.”
The water crisis has cast a shadow over the mayor and other village officials and the state, who many said weren’t forthcoming about the contamination. Borge maintains that what some called a slow response to the contamination had to do with the lack of knowledge about the chemical.
“We were the first community in New York State to be proactive in moving forward,” he said. “We’re learning a lot, and we’ve learned a lot.”
But Borge also said he understands people’s hesitations.
“Well, I think it’s going to take a little time for people to build up some confidence,” he said. “I get that. I understand that. That’s why the [bottled] water is going to be offered at least through October.”
Reaction around the village is varied. Resident Marilyn Tate said she will drink the water again.
“I’m not really worried; I have to be honest with you,” she said.
“Now we’re going to have the cleanest water in the great Northeast,” Borge said. “No doubt.”
New York State has implemented a plan to address PFOA contamination in the Hoosick Falls area, which includes:
- Overseeing the installation of a temporary municipal filtration system;
- Committing up to $10 million to install hundreds of private residential water filtration systems;
- Testing nearly 750 water samples from private and public wells since January 27, 2016
- Conducting a comprehensive blood testing program for residents;
- Working to identify an alternate permanent drinking water source; and
- Establishing a local command center with nearly 100 full-time state officials
The state has also identified Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics and Honeywell International as parties responsible for the PFOA contamination in the village of Hoosick Falls and the town of Hoosick. Both companies are responsible for the costs of providing safe drinking water to residents and fixing the contamination.
The village filtration system is temporary. A permanent one will be built and is expected to be up and running by October.