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Washington, DC – U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Armed Services Committee, today announced that the recently passed omnibus bill authorizes $63.8 million for remediation and research efforts for communities contaminated by perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). Specifically, $43.8 million will be allocated to the Air Force Environmental Restoration fund, which allows the Department of Defense to identify, investigate, and clean up former waste disposal sites on military property for the remediation of PFOS and PFOA, collectively known as perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will also receive $10 million to study the health effects of PFAS and an additional $10 million for health screenings related to contaminated water.  

“PFOS and related chemicals contamination is a spreading threat, and we need to clean it up to make sure that New York’s families and children have water that is safe to drink,” said Senator Schumer. “This new $63.8 million is a start for remediating PFOS-PFOA contamination in Newburgh, near Gabreski and beyond. While this is a big step forward to bring some relief to impacted communities, I won’t stop until all New Yorkers have the clean water they need and those responsible foot the bill.” 

“It is unacceptable that New Yorkers in some communities have had to worry about whether their drinking water will make them sick. We need to do everything possible to ensure that sites contaminated by PFOS and PFOA can fully recover,” said Senator Gillibrand. “These funds will help with these recovery efforts and will help uncover the full extent to which the contamination is affecting the water and health of New Yorkers. I was proud to fight for funding for cleanup efforts at contaminated locations throughout the country, and for the research to fully understand the health effects of these chemicals. I will continue to work with my colleagues to ensure that we are able to clean up the sites in Newburgh and Gabreski.”

PFOA and PFOS are part of a diverse group of chemicals, collectively known as perfluoroakyl substances (PFAS), that 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 firefighting foam that were used at the Stewart Air National Guard base in Newburgh and the Francis S. Gabreski International Guard Base in Westhampton Beach for training and fire-suppression exercises, according to state regulators. This has led state regulators to suspect the foam as the cause of the groundwater contamination in Newburgh and Westhampton Beach. These chemicals are linked to certain cancers and other serious adverse health effects. 

Schumer and Gillibrand successfully secured funding in last year’s National Defense Authorization Act for restoration and mitigation efforts at National Guard and Reserve installations to remediate PFOS and PFOA contamination. Gillibrand also signed a letter requesting funding for the CDC study she helped get into the FY18 National Defense Authorization Act to conduct a public health assessment of affected sites.