DURING IN-PERSON MEETING WITH U.S. AIR FORCE SECRETARY HEATHER WILSON, SCHUMER URGES THE AIR FORCE TO IMMEDIATELY REV UP PACE OF TOXIC PFOA/PFOS CONTAMINATION INVESTIGATIONS AND REMEDIATION EFFORTS AT STEWART AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, WASHINGTON LAKE AND ITS TRIBUTARIES; SAYS DISMAL PROGRESS HAS BEEN MADE IN OVER TWO YEARS SINCE ITS DISCOVERY AND MORE IMMEDIATE STEPS MUST BE TAKEN TO REMEDIATE THE CONTAMINATION AND HALT ITS FLOW FROM BASE
Over Two Years Ago, The City of Newburgh’s Primary Source Of Drinking Water, Washington Lake, Was Found To Be Contaminated By PFOA/PFOS As A Result Of The Use Of Firefighting Foam On Stewart ANGB, Endangering Public Health Of Residents
As Newburgh Continues Battling The Contamination, Schumer Recently Met With Secretary Of The Air Force Wilson To Push For More Immediate And Impactful Remediation Efforts
Schumer To Air Force: After More Than Two Years, It’s Time For The Air Force To Step Up And Start Cleaning Up PFOA/PFOS Contamination At And Around Stewart ANG Base
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, during an in-person meeting with U.S. Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson, urged the U.S. Air Force (USAF) to speed up the pace of their ongoing PFOA/PFOS contamination investigations and remediation efforts on and around Stewart Air National Guard Base in New Windsor, NY. The contamination impacts the City of Newburgh’s main drinking water source, Washington Lake, and its surrounding tributaries. Schumer argued that since the discovery of the contamination in May 2016, little has been done by the federal government to remediate the issue and stop the contamination from continuing to flow off base.
“During my meeting with Secretary of the Air Force Wilson, my message was loud and clear: The Air Force must be more aggressive, move faster and must make tangible progress cleaning up the PFOS contamination in and around Stewart. We know where the pollution is, we know it is still seeping into drinking water sources, and we know it is highly toxic. So let’s stop hiding behind process and start taking concrete interim steps to clean up the PFOS pollution while the full investigation and remediation plan are finalized,” said Schumer. “I believe Secretary Wilson appreciated the urgency of the situation and I look forward to working with her, the USAF and local stakeholders to make better progress going forward.”
Schumer explained that over two years ago, it was discovered that the City of Newburgh’s drinking source, Washington Lake, near the Stewart Air National Guard Base in Orange County, had been dangerously contaminated by PFOA/PFOS, but, while study has begun, not enough action has been taken to stanch the source of this contamination.
Schumer has long fought to address toxic chemical PFOA/PFOS contamination in New Windsor, impacting Newburgh’s drinking water. Very recently, Schumer successfully worked to include his amendment to authorize $20 million for the Air National Guard (ANG) to make payments to reimburse New York State and local water authorities for their ongoing remediation efforts and cleanup of PFOA and PFOS contamination due to ANG-related activities in the FY2019 Senate Defense Appropriations bill. Earlier this year, after Schumer’s push, a report concerning the health effects of polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) was finally released to the public, after its release was seemingly delayed because of political considerations. In September 2017, after Schumer’s urging, DOD immediately began their Site Investigation sampling which included Recreation Pond, another Schumer request, which yielded the highest concentration of PFOS according to the NYDEC’s original testing. In June 2017, during an in-person meeting with U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Schumer called on the Department of Defense to participate in the remediation of toxic PFOA/PFOS contamination. Lastly, in May 2017, during a one-on-one meeting with Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson, Schumer called on the USAF to pledge that they would prioritize the prompt remediation of the PFAS contamination at Stewart Air National Guard Base.
Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) are two types of polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a group of manufactured chemicals, and are persistent in the environment and resist degradation. These toxic chemicals are often used to manufacture products like fabric protectors, firefighting foam, and stain repellents. They are common primary ingredients in the firefighting foam that was used at Air National Guard bases for training and fire-suppression exercises, according to state regulators. Exposure to PFAS chemicals has been linked to certain cancers and other serious adverse health effects.