09.25.17

AT SCHUMER'S URGING, DOD WILL IMMEDIATELY START WATER SAMPLING TODAY IN NEW WINDSOR, INCLUDING RECREATION POND - MOVE REPEATEDLY PUSHED BY SCHUMER IS FIRST STEP TO CLEAN UP PFAS/PFOS WATER CONTAMINATION FROM STEWART AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE

U. S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer announced that Department of Defense (DoD) will begin taking water samples in and around Stewart Air National Guard Base in New Windsor, including Recreation Pond on Monday, September 25. This comes at Senator Schumer's urging, after numerous calls for action and directly to Secretary of Defense James Mattis in Washington, DC.

“Until now, the DoD has spent more time and energy trying to circumvent liability than it has honoring its responsibility to taxpayers, public health and innocent families. With water sampling beginning today it’s a sign that our countless calls for action is finally being answered – especially by including Recreation Pond in this week’s testing. While this is a big step forward to bring some relief to Newburgh, the DoD must thoroughly test and completely clean up the full PFOS mess they created in this community. And, further, the local communities must not be on the financial hook for this testing and remediation process,” said Senator Schumer.

Schumer explained the rates of contamination in Newburgh’s water were well beyond the acceptable 70 parts per trillion limit of human exposure to the related PFOA and PFOS. Testing done by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) in March of 2016 showed water supply contamination likely came from the release of aqueous-forming foam (AFFF) from Stewart. The testing also showed one of the outfalls discharging stormwater into Recreation Pond contained 5,900 ppt PFOS, almost 85 times the EPA health advisory limit of 70 ppt. The base was then declared a Superfund site. The Air National Guard completed a site inspection the inspection helped identify 13 potential release locations at the base. They soon presented a work plan to remediate the contamination but the plan did not include waterways like Recreation Pond, which has continued to receive substantial amounts of PFOS from the airport drainage, or any other off base waterways that were nonetheless contaminated as a direct result of the chemical release at Stewart. 

Last week Schumer, announced he was successful in including provisions to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to authorize $20 million in Sustainment, Restoration, and Modernization (SRM) funds for the Air Force to remediate PFOS and PFOA contamination at impacted Stewart Airbase in Newburgh, New York and to ensure that the Air Force has the authority to mitigate and clean up National Guard and Reserve installations. When allotted, this funding would be used specifically for mitigation actions at National Guard bases where site inspections confirm polyfluoroalkyl substance (PFAS) contamination. Schumer said perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoate acid (PFOA), a related chemical, are linked to certain cancers and other serious adverse health effects. The contamination stemmed from Stewart Air National Guard Base as a result of aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) used to fight fires. 

In February, Schumer urged DOD to add Recreation Pond and surrounding waterways to the Air National Guard’s pollution survey and cleanup plan. Recreation Pond and other waterways were determined to have elevated levels of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) by state DEC testing; PFOS and PFOA, a related chemical, is linked to birth defects and certain cancers. The contamination is widely believed by regulators to have originated at Stewart Air National Guard Base as a result of aqueous-forming foam (AFF) used to fight fires. 

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