State officials respond to NEWS10 questions about Hoosick Falls water contamination

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HOOSICK FALLS, N.Y. (NEWS10) – NEWS10 ABC spoke face-to-face with state officials to get questions answered about the water contamination in Hoosick Falls.

E-mails dating back more than a year before people were told not to drink the PFOA-contaminated water in Hoosick Falls show state officials were aware of the problem. They’ve been criticized for a slow response.

“Just so we’re clear, we followed the EPA standard,” New York State Director of State Operations Jim Malatras said. “The village followed the EPA standard. When the EPA came in and directed the community not to drink the water any longer and use bottled water, we complied with that.”

However, many in Hoosick Falls wondered why they weren’t told not to drink the water out of an abundance of caution.

“We are following the EPA standard,” Malatras said.

Malatras placed the blame on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. But a 2014 e-mail shows state health department officials were discussing ways to try and remove the chemical from the village water system before people were told not to drink the water.

“Well, you know we were working together always to look at whatever concerns there are in the community, and so that was the first part,” NYS Dept. of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said. “And in an effort to look at any chemical, any substance, you remember this was an unregulated substance. Any substance that we get some information about, we follow up on.”

Officials said they were following EPA guidelines, and the chemical was unregulated. But Hoosick Falls residents said that wasn’t good enough.

“I think what you’re referring to is early on in December 2014, when the village had testing done, what happened was the test that came back over 400, which was the EPA advisory standard. There were certain tests that came back at 600,” Malatras said. “That’s why those discussions were happening. It was the village system, so they want to know what are the alternatives to this problem. It was a calgon system.”

The village will begin flushing the water system on Saturday, and homeowners will be asked to flush their water. However, residents should still not drink the water or cook with it until the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and the NYS DOH conduct tests to ensure the new filtration system is working.

Test results could take another few weeks.

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