SCHUMER, IN A PERSONAL MEETING WITH ACTING SECRETARY OF DEFENSE PATRICK SHANAHAN, URGES DOD TO KEEP ITS PROMISE UNDER MATTIS TO QUICKLY IMPLEMENT INTERIM REMEDIATION MEASURES TO LIMIT SPREAD OF TOXIC PFOA/PFOS CONTAMINATION AT RECREATION POND AND BEYOND; SAYS MORE WORK MUST BE DONE TO LIMIT THE FURTHER SPREAD OF CARCINOGENIC WATER CONTAMINANT
In May 2016, The City Of Newburgh’s Main Drinking Water Source, Washington Lake, Was Found To Be Contaminated By PFOA/PFOS – Due To Use Of Firefighting Foam At Stewart ANGB; Toxic Pollution Endangered Health Of Thousands Of Residents, Who Were Unaware Of Threat For Years
Schumer Has Long Fought To Clean Up Newburgh’s Toxic PFOA/PFOS Contamination, Including Recently Receiving Commitment From ANG To Install Interim Remediation Measures At Recreation Pond; In A One-On-One Meeting With Acting Secretary Of Defense Patrick Shanahan, Schumer Calls On DOD To Keep Promises, Move Quickly On Implementation, And Maintain Collaboration With Locals
Schumer To DOD: Keep The Promise To Rapidly Implement Interim Remediation Measures To Stanch The Flow Of Toxic Pollution In Newburgh’s Water Supply
In a recent personal meeting with Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer called on the Department of Defense (DOD) to keep the promise, first made under Secretary Mattis, to implement the interim remediation measures long sought by community leaders to stanch the flow of toxic PFOA/PFOS pollution from Recreation Pond into Newburgh’s water supply.
Schumer underscored to Acting Secretary Shanahan that it is vital the DOD continue making progress cleaning up the toxic PFOA/PFOS contamination of Stewart Air National Guard Base and Newburgh’s primary drinking water source, Washington Lake.
Schumer said, “I explained very clearly to Acting Secretary of Defense Shanahan that the cleanup of PFOA/PFOS is of the utmost importance, and that the rapid implementation of interim remediation measures to stop the flow from Recreation Pond is job #1. No resident of Newburgh or the surrounding communities should have to worry that their drinking water could endanger them.”
Schumer has long prioritized the cleanup of PFOA/PFOS in Newburgh, and recently, was successful in pushing the New York Air National Guard (ANG) to commit to install interim remediation measures at Recreation Pond. Schumer explained that there is still much more work to be done to rid Newburgh of the scourge of toxic PFOA/PFOS, including the actual installation of the interim remediation measures, and called on the Department of Defense to do everything possible to make more progress more quickly.
“That’s why I told Acting Secretary of Defense Shanahan that he must keep working to tackle this contamination -- including the expedient installation of interim remediation measures -- stay in close contact with community leaders, and not try to hide behind process or legal arguments. No resident of Newburgh should have to worry that they will be harmed by the water they drink, nor should contaminated water continue flowing off base over two years after its discovery, and I’ll keep fighting until that’s the case, once and for all,” said Senator Schumer.
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. And further said that the community has not been kept informed in a real-time and detailed way of the clean-up plans and process.
At Schumer’s insistence, the DOD, under then-Secretary Mattis, reversed itself and pledged to move forward with interim remedial measures to stanch the ongoing flow of toxic PFOA/PFOS pollution in the local water system. This was the highest priority of the Newburgh community and state regulators. Following this significant development, the Army Corps of Engineers conducted a site visit and survey on January 10, 2019 to do technical assessments on the best way to do the filtration system for Recreation Pond and perhaps other danger spots. According to the Army Corps, there are four storm water outfalls discharging into Recreation Pond, and the size and type of treatment system depends on the discharge rate into Recreation Pond and the amount of pollutant in the storm water, which the Corps of Engineers will assess. The results of that visit are being processed, and Schumer’s office will continue to aggressively monitor those developments.
Schumer has long fought to address toxic chemical PFOA/PFOS contamination in New Windsor, impacting Newburgh’s drinking water. In December of 2018, after years of advocacy, Schumer successfully pushed for the ANG to commit to installing interim remediation measures at Recreation Pond in Newburgh. Last November, Schumer met with Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson to urge the Air Force to rev up the pace of PFOA/PFOS contamination investigations and remediation efforts. This September, Schumer and Sen. Gillibrand successfully worked to include their amendment to provide funding 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. In July of this year, after Schumer and Gillibrand’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 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.
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