Hoosick Falls Considers Revised Agreement with Saint Gobain, Honeywell for PFOA Contamination

Leaders in Hoosick Falls are considering a revised settlement with Saint-Gobain and Honeywell over PFOA contamination. Thursday, the public will have its chance to give its input. Terry Stackhouse has the details.

HOOSICK FALLS, N.Y. -- A former EPA regional administrator is criticizing a revised settlement, worth more than $1 million, between the Village of Hoosick Falls and the companies blamed for contaminating the community’s drinking water.

Locals learned of the revised settlement through a post on the village’s website Wednesday night. It will be discussed at a public meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday inside the village’s armory.

Former EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck says that’s not enough time for village residents to digest the deal, a deal she calls one of the worst she’s ever seen.

Under the revised settlement, Honeywell and Saint Gobain would pay the Village of Hoosick Falls $1,045,000 for costs related to PFOA contamination.

“This is a pittance and not nearly enough,” said Enck.

Enck, who lives in Poestenkill, says she’s never seen settlement between a local government and large polluters more ill-advised and one-sided. In an open letter Thursday, she urged Mayor David Borge and the Village Board of Trustees to reject the settlement or delay a decision.

“As a former environmental regulator, I know that as time passes, new information is gathered, the cost always goes up; it never goes down,” said Enck.

Last month, the village board of trustees tabled a decision on an $850,000 offer due to overwhelming opposition. Mayor Borge says money is needed to pay three consulting firms the village used during the PFOA crisis.

Many locals fear a settlement strips the village’s ability to sue.

“This settlement needs many more zeroes attached to it,” said Enck.  

According to a statement on the village website, if approved, the village cannot sue the companies for their role in contaminating three wells with PFOA, but the village can still seek damages and pursue other claims associated with contamination in alternate water sources, and if chemicals other than PFOA are found.  

“They should not give up their legal rights. There are multi-billion dollar companies that can afford a modest amount of money for this community,” said Enck.

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