QUEENSBURY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – In March 2021, the news went public that residents in the neighborhood of Jenkinsville had been asked by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to make a significant life change. Residents of five homes were asked to switch to bottled water for drinking and cooking, after the DEC found PFOAs and 1,4-dioxane in their wells.
Fast forward a year, and five homes have become 20, according to the most recent information this week from the DEC. Staff are closer to figuring out which of the four neighborhood-adjacent landfills are causing the contamination, but there’s still more testing to do.
Jenkinsville’s 122 homes all use water from wells – as do all Queensbury homes for the next three miles south, and further north into Lake George. There’s less well testing that can be done in the winter as snow covers the neighborhood, but the DEC was able to get a lot done in October 2021. 55 homes that had already had their wells sampled for PFOAs and 1,4-dioxane were asked to agree to another round of testing, with 48 agreeing to do so.
The breakdown of those tests: 41 homes were either clear of both contaminants, or found to contain them at extremely low levels – too low to create any concern through state thresholds. Six more homes are set for yet another round of resampling, in order to verify results. One home became the 20th to switch to bottled water – now many months after first seeing some of their neighbors doing the same.
The contaminants at all 20 homes remain below the threshold of immediate high danger, but the switch was encouraged by the DEC out of an abundance of caution. Additional rounds of testing have been initiated in cases where initial results showed more than 1 part per billion of PFOA or 1,4-dioxane contaminant, according to a DEC update from last October.
The investigation into Jenkinsville began in 2020, when the DEC ran a routine water test at wells at the Queensbury Landfill directly north of the neighborhood. Contaminants found there led to testing to start in the neighborhood.
Queensbury Landfill is one of four directly surrounding the neighborhood, joined by Finch Paper, Ciba-Geiby and McLaughlin landfills. Last August, the DEC said testing had concluded at all three of those landfills, and no significant amount of contamination had been found at any of them.
That leads back to Queensbury Landfill, where it all started. Consultant TRC Companies, Inc. is currently in the midst of a Site Characterization at the landfill, which is now suspected to be the cause. The way water flows, only properties to the south of the landfill have been deemed at risk. Places like the two gas stations and restaurants just to the north of the site aren’t in the path of potentially dangerous water flow.
The work is expected to continue throughout the spring and into the summer. Once it’s done, the DEC will be able to identify parties responsible.
It isn’t clear exactly what the best long-term solution will be for the 20 residents of the Queensbury community. Queensbury Ward 1 Councilman Anthony Metivier has previously suggested connecting the neighborhood to the town water line, a process which would have to cover three miles, and which would cost a lot in town money. Metivier and Queensbury Supervisor John Strough did not respond to NEWS10 requests seeking comment Thursday and Friday.