PFOS contamination of Washington Lake may date back 25 years

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Pollution of Newburgh’s main water supply may date back to 1990

NEWBURGH – Contamination of the City of Newburgh’s drinking water supply in Washington Lake by the carcinogenic chemical PFOS appears to have been a problem longer than first suspected.
In a letter to state Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker, City Manager Michael Ciaravino said city officials learned from the DEC that there was a “significant spill” of material containing PFOS at the Stewart Air National Guard Base as early as 1990. That 4,000-gallon spill came from two tanks.
“It is assumed that this release eventually made its way into Washington Lake, but more work needs to be done to understand how much would have reached the lake and how much would have gone elsewhere,” Ciaravino wrote in his letter dated Monday, September 12. “Nonetheless, we now have reason to believe that PFOS may have been present in the lake for the last 25 years.”
The city manager also told Zucker that since the DEC has declared the Guard base a state Superfund site, “Newburgh would now appear to be at the same regulatory stage as the Village of Hoosick Falls, also feeling the effects of a nearby Superfund site, where biological monitoring and health assessment programs have been underway for some time.”
As a result, the Newburgh manager renewed his call for “a biological monitoring and health assessment program to determine the health impact, if any, on those who have been drinking our water.”
For the last few months, Newburgh has been tapping the New York City Catskill Aqueduct for its drinking water supply after Ciaravino turned off the Washington Lake spigot.
Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) is a toxic chemical used in firefighting foam and other applications.