Hoosick Falls Water Hearing Set for Tuesday

ALBANY, N.Y. -- Hoosick Falls residents will have their first chance to directly confront state officials on Tuesday in a public hearing to address the PFOA contamination in the village's drinking water.

"It's an opportunity for the residents in Hoosick Falls to tell their stories and I think it's very important that we listen to them," said state Sen. Kathy Marchione, R-Halfmoon.

The hearing follows a prolonged effort by residents of the Rensselaer County village to get to the bottom of how the chemical contamination went undetected for so long.

"I think we need to know when did you know about PFOA, how did you handle it, who did you speak with," Marchione said.

Marchione herself has come under fire from village residents for not initially backing hearings. She's passed legislation making it easier for those who live in declared superfund sites like Hoosick Falls to sue.

"I think that people will still be very concerned and I'm still very concerned that cleanup isn't done," said Marchione. The blood tests show high levels of PFOA. That doesn't go away. That stays with you every single night."

Expected to testify at the hearing in Hoosick Falls are the commissioners of the state health and environmental conservation department, but the federal Environmental Protection Agency will only submit written testimony.

"To say that I was disappointed would be an understatement," Marchione said. "I believe that EPA should be there. I believe that people in my district deserve to hear from EPA just like they deserve to hear from DOH and DEC.

The hearing is the first of several forums state lawmakers plan to hold on water quality. Both the Senate and Assembly will hold joint hearings in September on statewide water quality issues.

"We need to as a state and as a country need to focus on rebuilding our infrastructure and a big part of that infrastructure is making sure folks have clean water," said Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin, R-Melrose.

McLaughlin says state officials didn't act swiftly enough to address initial reports of the PFOA contamination in Hoosick Falls.

"It's crucial, I mean this is on a level of Flint, Michigan-type of a problem with government not letting folks know what was going on," McLaughlin said.

The Hoosick Falls hearing begins at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday.

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