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EPA official defends response to Hoosick Falls water crisis

Sep 02, 2016 12:02 am
Matthew Hamilton reports in Capitol Confidential that after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's administration blamed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for the water crisis in Hoosick Falls at a long hearing Aug. 30, EPA Region 2 Administrator Judith Enck defended her agency’s response. “The issue of changing numbers, though, is kind of a moot point,” Enck said of EPA’s move in late 2015 to set a lower acceptable PFOA exposure level. “We had a 400 part per trillion short-term health advisory in effect for five years. In Hoosick Falls, test results showed that people were drinking water with over 600 parts per trillion of PFOA — so clearly in violation of the short-term health advisory.... We were in very close communication with the state Health Department. There was absolutely not confusion on the EPA numbers; there was disagreement about what to do about it.” The EPA did not speak at the Aug. 30 hearing, instead just sending a statement. Enck also said that the Department of Health should have joined the EPA in sounding an alarm over the pollution earlier. “We are drinking water hawks,” she said. “We do not want people drinking contaminated water, and the numbers were pretty clear. There should not have been any confusion at all that the public water supply in Hoosick Falls was higher than an existing EPA short-term health advisory.” State DEC officials disagreed, writing that the EPA “shifted their position repeatedly – changing the level from 400 parts per trillion to 100 parts per trillion in a single town, and then changing the national advisory level from 400 parts per trillion to 70 parts per trillion.” Read the full story in Capitol Confidential.
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