ALBANY – Newburgh City Manager Michael Ciaravino told a panel of state Assembly and Senate members on Wednesday that the contamination of Washington Lake could go back decades, long before the carcinogenic chemical PFOS was discovered in its drinking water supply.
It has been determined that a major source of the problem is the Air National Guard Base at nearby Stewart Airport. The facility was an Air Force base long before that and Ciaravino said the problems may go back to that timeframe.
“We understand that it’s not only PFOS that we should be concerned about,” Ciaravino told the panel. “This has been a historic dumping ground for well over 50, 60, 70 years.”
With that in mind, Ciaravino said the exact length of time Newburgh residents have been drinking tainted water remains unknown and he called for swift approval of blood testing to determine if there are any health effects from drinking the water.
“I am still not clear as to why we need to wait for any federal agency to initiate this testing,” he said. “Going back to the historic distrust in the City of Newburgh, there is a narrative that is being asked is that why are other communities being given the testing and the City of Newburgh is not. What is it that makes our community different? Why isn’t it that this contaminant that we have found in our water source, doesn’t immediately call for absolute action to get the testing we need, to get the long-term monitoring?”
Ciaravino also noted there is no independent agency investigating the water pollution problems that are emanating from state and federal lands and are being explored by agencies of both levels of government.
Ciaravino’s half-hour testimony was part of a more than 12 hours of evidence presented by local officials from Hoosick Falls, where a water contamination problem exists, as well as environmental organizations and local residents.