New York legislature passes ban on burning firefighting foam

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The State Legislature has voted to ban the incineration of firefighting foam, a significant victory for Capital Region residents concerned about clean water and air.

The foam can contain PFAS, a chemical that can cause serious health problems. The state law is notable in particular locally because of the Norlite Hazardous Waste facility in Cohoes, which received permission from the Department of Defense to dispose of the foam by burning it.

The Department of Defense gave permission without an environmental review, while the Environmental Protection Agency was still evaluating the disposal practice, which only ended locally following public outcry.

The firefighting foam, also called AFFF or aqueous film-forming foam, contains potentially dangerous chemicals like per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).

According to the New York Public interest group, “AFFF and PFAS chemicals have polluted the drinking water supplies in numerous communities in New York, including Long Island, Hoosick Falls, Petersburgh, and Newburgh.”

The legislation was introduced by Sen. Neil Breslin and Assemblymember John McDonald in February, within weeks of learning of the toxic situation.

As we have seen in Hoosick Falls and other communities, the risks associated with PFAS contamination are of great concern to human health. Swift action was necessary to keep our communities’ air clean and to protect our residents of Cohoes and the surrounding communities.

Sen. Neil Breslin
Assemblymember John McDonald
Joint Statement

The Department of Defense is currently being sued for burning PFAS in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act and the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020.

In Hoosick Falls, the Community Participation Work Group is meeting remotely on Wednesday, June 24 at 6 p.m. to share progress reports on PFOA remedial activities for the municipal water supply. Interested Hoosick Falls residents and advocates should send an email with their full names for information on how to participate.

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