Newburgh, NY – Weeks after announcing the launch of a biomonitoring program to test Newburgh residents for the contaminant perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), which was found in the Newburgh water supply, Representative Sean Patrick Maloney announced the introduction of two bills to improve and expand testing and research for possible contamination of water supplies. The Investing in Testing Act authorizes $15 million for a two year study by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to determine the health impact of PFOS contamination in drinking water, and The Clean Water Healthy Communities Act would require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to test unregulated contaminants in communities with fewer than 10,000 people. The current EPA requirement for testing only applies to communities with more than 10,000 residents.
“It doesn’t matter if you live in a big city or a small town – everyone deserves safe drinking water and the right to know what health effects they could experience if their water is contaminated,” said Rep. Maloney. “The biomonitoring program in Newburgh is an important first step in determining the extent of contamination, but once we have that data, we need to understand the long-term health effects of that contamination – and how to respond.”
“As the city of Newburgh goes, so goes the nation in terms of PFOS science, and the support of Congressman Maloney will go a long way to further align the resources of the federal, local, and state governments,” said Newburgh City Manager Michael Ciaravino. “We view this as an important first step and we can’t thank the Congressman enough.”
“I want to thank Congressman Maloney for responding to this emergency,” said Orange County Legislator Chris Eachus. “These two pieces of legislation will actually address this problem right here in our community.”
Since abnormally and unacceptably high levels of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) were found in Newburgh’s water supply, Rep. Maloney has worked with local, state and federal officials to call for an immediate investigation, hold those responsible accountable, and ensure residents in Newburgh have a clean water source without placing the financial burden on the City. After the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) declared Stewart Air National Guard (ANG) base a state Superfund site, Representative Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18) called on the Department of Defense (DoD) to comply with the DEC’s request for a federal remediation program. Immediately after declaring Stewart ANG base an Inactive Hazardous Waste Disposal Site (Class 2), more commonly referred to as a state Superfund site, DEC sent a letter to DoD requesting that they enter into a legally binding agreement to carry out a remediation program with the state and bear some of the cost. Following this request, Rep. Maloney sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, requesting expeditious compliance with this request and “a commitment from the Department of Defense to develop, implement, and finance a Remedial Program for the contamination site.” On September 20, Maloney and state officials announced the launch of a biomonitoring program for Newburgh.
On May 19, Rep. Maloney called on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to immediately set a clear national standard for acceptable levels of PFOA and PFOS in drinking water. Rep. Maloney also renewed calls for the EPA to provide immediate material assistance to the City of Newburgh to remediate the contamination. On May 13, Rep. Maloney called on the DoD to immediately conduct an investigation into the likely source of the pollution – Stewart Air National Guard Base. In addition to calling for a review of the source of the contaminant, Rep. Maloney asked the DoD to ensure total remediation for the City of Newburgh. On June 8, after a strong push, Rep. Maloney announced that the DoD added Stewart ANG base to their review list and made the investigation into Newburgh water contamination a first priority. After initial reports of contamination in the City of Newburgh water, Rep. Maloney and Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand wrote a letter to the EPA calling for immediate assistance to determine the source of the contamination, test contaminant levels, and formulate a remediation plan.
*Original Press Release online at https://seanmaloney.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/maloney-pushes-for-federal-research-into-health-impact-of-contamination