Man who brought PFOA contamination to light receives national award

NEW YORK (NEWS10) – A local champion of environmental issues was recognized on the national stage Friday for his efforts in bringing the Hoosick Falls water crisis to light.

Michael Hickey is the one who discovered the PFOA contamination two years ago. Hickey suspected the chemical may be in the village’s drinking water. Knowing there was no law requiring water systems to test for it, he took his own samples and paid to have them tested.

Hickey said he notified officials, but he said they were reluctant to help.

News of the contamination was made public in late 2015. Following the contamination, Hoosick Falls installed a filtration system to ensure people have clean drinking water. PFOA has also been found in Petersburgh and Bennington, Vt.

Since then, Hickey has been working to find a solution to the water crisis. On Friday, he was one of 28 people honored by the U.S. Environment Protection Agency for protecting the environment at the Environmental Champion Awards.

But he’s not comfortable with being called a hero.

“That’s never what it was about,” he said. “It was about the right message and going in the right direction with our water as a whole in our community. I think we’re on that path. I think there are still improvements that need to be done, and hopefully, we’re seeing other communities go in the right direction and not have the same obstacles we had in the beginning.”

“I often worry if Michael Hickey had not sent off water samples at his own cost to an independent laboratory, I’m not sure we would have known about the contamination in Hoosick Falls,” EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck said.

Dr. Marcus Martinez, from Hoosick Falls, was also honored on Friday. He works with the group Healthy Hoosick Water and helped with medical monitoring of PFOA.


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