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Governor candidate Cynthia Nixon visits Hoosick Falls to discuss PFOA

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HOOSICK FALLS -- On the same day actress Cynthia Nixon’s first political interview aired on national TV, the candidate for governor made a trip to Hoosick Falls to discuss contamination of drinking water.

On the taped Wendy Williams show, Nixon said if elected, she would legalize and tax marijuana. She also addressed the issue with press in Hoosick Falls.

At the Delaney House in Hoosick Falls, Nixon criticized Gov. Andrew Cuomo for what she called the state's inadequate response to the public health crisis.

He was only here once, back in 2016.

She held a round table with residents, and listened as they told her they still buy bottled water.

Mikayla Baker is a sophomore in Hoosick Falls. She shared her story with Nixon.

“For 16 years, whatever chemicals besides PFOA that are in our water is now in my body,” said Baker.

These residents told Nixon they urged testing for years and were ignored.

“There is an enormous amount of damage that has been done to this community and to people's bodies and to people's health,” said Nixon.

She says Saint Gobain, a blamed source of the contaminant, should be held responsible and pay.

“The town of Hoosick Falls is now a Superfund site, which means it is so incredibly polluted that it is both a state toxic site and a federal toxic site,” said Nixon.

High levels of PFOA, an industrial chemical were found in the village of Hoosick Falls water supply in June of 2015. It wasn’t until January 2016, that Governor Cuomo directed the state to use funding, filtration and testing. These mandates came more than a month after federal officials warned residents not to use the water.

“Our state government, not only were they slow to move, what was discovered was that our State Department of a Health already knew that the water was contaminated,” said Nixon.

Nixon was invited here by former EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck, the federal official who alerted the public about the risk of drinking the toxic water in Hoosick Falls.

Enck endorsed Nixon at the event.

The State DOH told CBS 6 that since March of 2016, a filtration system has treated the water supply to non-detectable levels for PFOA, ensuring residents access to clean drinking water.

The state continued to provide bottled water until August 2016.

“We need to find an alternate water system For Hoosick Falls,” said Nixon.

She also says this area needs medical monitoring.

Nixon announced she was running for governor March 19th

On the Republican side, State Senator John A. DeFrancisco out of Syracuse and Dutchess County executive Marcus Molinaro will vie for the nomination.

Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi sent a statement in response to Nixon’s Hoosick Falls visit.

“This administration ?has taken aggressive action to address water quality issues across New York, creating the Water Quality Rapid Response Team, enacting the historic $2.5 billion Clean Water Infrastructure Act and record $300 million Environmental Protection Fund. The state’s comprehensive response to help Hoosick Falls recover from water contamination caused by Saint Gobain and Honeywell has been unprecedented. When the U.S. EPA failed to hold the polluters accountable, New York stepped in to force the companies to clean up their mess. To date, we have invested more than $25 million to help the community recover, built a state-of-the-art treatment system for the village water supply and installed more than 900 home filtration systems for residents with private wells. Our commitment to the Hoosick Falls community has been unwavering and will remain so until the job is done,” said Azzopardi.

The State Department of Health also sent CBS 6 this list of what it is doing on the issue.

DEC Background info

• Installed an interim granular carbon filtration system (GAC) in March 2016 and transitioned to a full capacity GAC in February 2017, providing clean drinking water to village residents using the public water supply.

• DEC secured the installation and service of more than 900 POET systems.

• DOH initiated a confidential biomonitoring program for more than 2,900 residents of the Hoosick Falls area and retained Mount Sinai as an independent resource for residents who wished to discuss their results.

• DOH has committed to a second round of biomonitoring scheduled for Spring of 2018.

• DEC executed a consent order with Honeywell and Saint-Gobain which requires implementation of a superfund remedial program for the McCaffrey Street and Liberty Street plants, including a comprehensive field investigation and conducting an alternate water supply feasibility study, which will incorporate the field work conducted by DEC, which are both underway. DEC executed a separate order with Honeywell for remedial programs at the former John Street and the three River Road plant sites. DEC is providing field oversight of these remedial programs.

• DOH and DEC have implemented aggressive sampling and testing efforts in order to both understand the extent of the contamination as well as to identify a potential new water source for the Village. This includes extensive sampling of the Village's soil and water supply, as well as the testing of more than 1,000 private wells.

• DOH developed capacity at Wadsworth Center, the state’s public health laboratory, to allow for expanding monitoring of the village’s public water supply from 6 unregulated PFCs to 21.

• DOH coordinated with the Village of Hoosick Falls, Town of Hoosick, Rensselaer County and Saint Gobain to provide bottled water from November 2015 to September 2017

• NYS became the first state in the nation to regulate PFCs when DEC issued an Emergency Regulation to Classify PFOA as a Hazardous Substance in January 2016. This enabled DEC to classify the Saint-Gobain McCaffrey Street Facility as a Class 2 State Superfund Site unlocking state resources and enforcement powers to address contamination and respond to the community's immediate needs. Additionally, the Hoosick Falls landfill was identified as a potential State Superfund site during its investigation of contamination.

• DOH and DEC have conducted more than 120 informational sessions at the HAYC3 Armory and have spoken to more than 1,600 residents in the Village of Hoosick Falls.

• Established a State Hotline, 1-800-801-8092 for the public to stay informed. To date, DOH has answered questions from more than 1,700 concerned residents from Hoosick Falls and Petersburgh.

• To date, the state has incurred over $25 million in costs and expects to spend at least $50 million over the next ten years for costs, including but not limited to, biomonitoring, installation and ongoing maintenance of home point of entry water treatment (POET) systems, full site remediation, and evaluation of an alternative water supply

• Established a Water Quality Rapid Response Team led by DEC and DOH to coordinate efforts across state agencies in responding to water issues such as emerging contaminants.

• Established a Drinking Water Quality Council which is charged with making recommendations on maximum contaminant levels and other drinking water standards, starting with a review of PFCs and 1,4-dioxane. The Council is expected to make recommendations on these contaminants in the coming weeks.

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