US House committee to investigate PFOA contamination response

WASHINGTON (NEWS10) – Another big win for people who have been dealing with the PFOA water contamination crisis.

After Congressman Chris Gibson requested a federal investigation into the contamination, the House Committee on Oversight sent letters to to Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Environmental Protection Agency requesting any and all information related to PFOA contamination in Hoosick Falls.

Federal involvement was something people of Hoosick Falls weren’t sure would ever happen.

The letters are lengthy and detail the timeline pointing to the fact that the EPA knew about PFOA contamination in Hoosick Falls in December 2014 and state and county officials knew in August 2014.

The letters go on to say both entities did nothing for nearly a year.

In the letter to the EPA, the House Committee on Oversight says government officials were non-responsive when the people of Hoosick Falls raised concerns about water quality back in the summer of 2014.

The letters claim the people of Hoosick Falls were told the water would pose no health concerns in both January and December 2015.

The letters demand any correspondence between the EPA and the Cuomo Administration concerning the contamination and Congressman Chris Gibson says this is a huge step in the right direction.

“Responsibility of leaders at various levels. What actions that they took. What communications were made to the people of Hoosick falls. And to Petersburgh. When action was supposed to be taken. This all needs to be within the purview of this investigation.”

The people of Hoosick Falls say they are sick of being lied to.

“We put this in our kids drinks. In their Kool Aid and in their sippy cups. We gave it to them out of a hose on a hot summer day like today. We should have been told the truth,” Michele Baker, Hoosick Falls resident, said.

Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin says his constituents deserve to know the truth.

“At the time, the Cuomo Administration is saying they were following the EPA guidelines. They 100 percent were not.”

The Cuomo Administration released this statement:

“States across the country have struggled to confront evolving information about PFOA and other emerging contaminants, particularly in the face of shifting guidelines and the absence of regulation from the federal government.  We will gladly share our experience in New York to clarify the facts and the steps we have taken to address these challenges. We hope the end result is that Congress and the federal government act swiftly to prioritize and to implement uniform, nationwide regulations of PFOA and similar, currently unregulated contaminants. No town, city, or state should have to fear the water they are drinking.  With clear federal regulations, we can achieve that goal.”

The EPA and the Cuomo Administration need to provide the correspondence dating back to May 1, 2014 to Congress no later than 5 p.m. on July 20.

Assemblyman McLaughlin says the Administration’s 90 day retention policy will hurt them.

“That policy is designed for one thing,” McLaughlin said. “To keep the public in the dark.”

The EPA released this statement:

“The EPA has just received the request for information and documents related to our work in Hoosick Falls. We will review and respond directly to the Committee.”

Congressman Gibson hopes this will lead to federal hearing and the people of Hoosick Falls are asking why they were lied to for so long.

The truth won’t be enough for the people in Hoosick Falls to feel safe about their water.

“I will never drink that tap water again. You just can’t. Not after what we’ve been through,” Baker said.

The Cuomo Administration is claim there are discrepancies in the letters from Congress, but not outlining what those are.

Read the letters to Governor Cuomo and Letter to the EPA.

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