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EPA bashed at first water quality hearing

Aug 31, 2016 6:30 am

Matthew Hamilton and Casey Seiler are reporting in the Times Union state and local officials were highly critical of the federal Environmental Protection Agency during the state Senate hearing held Tue., Aug. 30, on the water contamination crisis in Rensselaer County. The hearing is the first to be held despite months of public outrage over the official response to the emergency. State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said, "What we could use is a little less confusion from EPA." Zucker said the federal agency offered shifting guidance on the safe level of PFOA in water. Up until May 2016, Zucker said, the federal agency never warned against drinking the water. Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos testified, and was highly critical of the EPA's "shifting and conflicting" guidance, as well. Hamilton and Seiler report some of the most dramatic testimony came from Michael Hickey, the village resident who began testing the local water not long after the 2013 death of his father from kidney cancer, one of the diseases linked to PFOA exposure. The EPA submitted a statement to the hearing, but declined to send a representative. Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics and Honeywell turned down invitations to appear. Both companies have been identified as the likely culprits responsible for the pollution. Hundreds of Hoosick Falls residents have been found to have elevated levels of PFOA in their blood stream. The chemical was used for years by Saint-Gobain and Honeywell, and made its way into the local water supply. Halfmoon Republican, Sen. Kathy Marchione, presided over the Senate hearing, along with the chairs of the Health and Environmental committees, Senators Kemp Hannon and Tom O'Mara. The hearing Tuesday was the first of four state legislative sessions on water quality planned for the coming weeks. Read the full story in the Times Union.

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