DEC: Taconic Plastics responsible for PFOA contamination in Petersburgh

PETERSBURGH, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) designated Taconic Plastics as a state superfund site.

According to the DEC, the state has been working with the Town of Petersburgh since the discovery of PFOA contamination.

“Protecting public health and the environment remains the number one priority in Petersburgh, and the state and our local partners have moved swiftly to bring clean, safe drinking water to all residents of the town as quickly as possible,” DEC Acting Commissioner Basil Seggos said. “As our investigation continues and we learn more about the extent of the contamination, we will take aggressive actions to hold the responsible party accountable.”

The State Superfund Program requires the full nature and extent of contamination be identified and remediated to be fully protective of public health and the environment.

On Thursday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a lifetime drinking water health advisory of 70 parts per trillion for human exposure to PFOA.

PFOA has been linked to serious health problems such as cancer.

Some local communities, including Petersburgh, Hoosick Falls, Bennington, and Pownal, have had wells test positive for the chemical.

There was mixed reaction to the new EPA level. Cynthia Peterson, of Petersburgh, called it a sad gesture.

“I think it should be zero to one,” she said. “I mean, we shouldn’t have contaminated water.”

Petersburgh Town Supervisor Peter Schaaphok said the level helps clear up confusion. Originally, Petersburgh residents were told by Rensselaer County they could only get a water filtration system for their well if they had a level above 100 ppt. But now, the county said anyone above 70 ppts will be eligible for the filters.

The DEC says it identified Taconic Plastics responsible for the PFOA contamination and is working to identify the full nature and extent of contamination in Petersburgh.

“The EPA advisory is welcome news as it provides the necessary framework as we continue our efforts to address the PFOA pollution,” Rensselaer County Executive Kathleen Jimino said in a statement. “Additionally, the State’s Superfund designation at Taconic will help bring to bear the necessary resources ensuring a more expedient and thorough cleanup of the PFOA pollution in Petersburgh.”

The DEC also says it will pursue all available legal remedies against Taconic Plastics to recoup any costs that the state incurs.

“Oh, they did that today?” Peterson said. “Well, we’re making progress then. That’s a little bit of progress.”

“I think it will be helpful,” Schaaphok said. “I think it now allows the state to dictate more things, which they weren’t doing before.”

After learning of the PFOA contamination in the town in February, the state required the Taconic to supply bottled water to all town residents. The DEC, New York State Department of Health and Rensselaer County have launched a comprehensive investigation to determine the extent of the contamination, including water and soil sampling.

New York has already directed Taconic to install a treatment system on the town’s water supply.

Taconic Plastics released the following statement Thursday evening;

Today’s announcement by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is another step in what has been a long process for the company and the Petersburgh community.

More than 10 years ago, Taconic conducted sampling that demonstrated the presence of PFOA in groundwater. Taconic sought to address the issue immediately by providing DEC, the New York State Department of Health and the Rensselaer County Department of Health with sampling results, installing carbon filtration on facility wells and providing bottled water to employees and company-owned residences.

Upon the listing of PFOA as a hazardous substance by DEC on January 27, 2016, Taconic again approached DEC to discuss the matter.  On February 10, 2016, Taconic hosted New York State DEC and DOH, Rensselaer County DOH and the Office of the Rensselaer County Executive at the facility to further discuss additional actions to be undertaken by Taconic.

On February 19, 2016, we submitted an application to DEC’s Brownfield Cleanup Program to facilitate the remediation.  While that application has been pending, Taconic has installed carbon filtration systems on more than 30 drinking water wells, provided bottled water to residents and worked to further address water supply issues in the town, including agreeing to design and install a treatment system for the municipal water supply.

DEC’s selection of the Superfund Program to oversee the cleanup will not affect Taconic’s continued cooperation in addressing this matter to protect our neighbors, employees and the community.

 

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