SCHUMER, GILLIBRAND & MALONEY URGE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE TO IMMEDIATELY INSTALL FILTRATION UNITS AT STEWART AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE CONTAMINATION HOT SPOTS TO HALT SPREAD OF PFOS-TAINTED WATER
Reps Say Top Brass At DOD Must Intervene By Ordering Air Force To Install Filtration System, At No Cost To Newburgh; “While a Full Investigation is Ongoing, We should Take Common Sense Action Today to Prevent Further Contamination,” Say Reps
Reps To DOD: Take Remedial Action Now to Prevent Known PFOS Source from Further Contaminating Newburgh Waterways
U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and U.S. Representative Sean Patrick Maloney today urged the U.S. Department of Defense to order the Air National Guard to immediately install carbon filtration units at the site of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) contamination at the Stewart Air National Guard Base in order to halt the continued discharge of contaminated water into Silver Stream. Schumer, Gillibrand and Maloney are continuing their effort to hold the Air National Guard and DOD accountable by requesting they install mobile filtration technology at the outlet of Recreation Pond and other identified PFOS-hot spots while the larger investigation is ongoing.
Following the identification of PFOS hot spots, like Recreation Pond, Schumer, Gillibrand and Maloney are demanding that the Air National Guard immediately implement carbon filtration units at the PFOS-contamination spots identified by DEC on base as a vital interim remedial measure to prevent the spread and flow of contaminated water from the base’s storm water infrastructure to Silver Stream, Washington Lake, Moodna Creek and elsewhere.
“My message to DOD is crystal clear: you need to immediately install a water filtration system to de-contaminate the known PFOS-hot spots on the base before the spill off further contaminates Newburgh’s downstream waterways. And you need to do it now, at no cost to the City of Newburgh,” said Senator Schumer. “It is good that the DOD is implementing a full plan to identify and clean-up PFOS contamination, but it makes no sense at all to wait until that plan is completed later this fall when we know right now where the contamination is, and we know how to remove the toxic PFOS from the water before the contamination further spreads. We can’t hide behind process when the public health is under threat.”
“It is critical that we stop the contamination of Newburgh’s waterways as soon as possible and ensure that aggressive steps are taken to protect the water that local residents rely on,” said Senator Gillibrand. “We must also work to get a full picture of the damage and create a long-term plan to remediate this environmental and public health crisis as soon as possible.”
"It's been nine months since we asked DOD to clean up the mess they're responsible for making at Stewart - a mess which threatens the drinking water for thousands of my neighbors in Newburgh," said U.S. Representative Sean Patrick Maloney. "New York State DEC has confirmed that Stewart is the source of the contamination - and it's time for DOD to get their act together and come up with a solution that doesn't force the innocent people of Newburgh to shoulder this burden - we needed this done months ago."
Previously Schumer and Gillibrand and Maloney called for a full investigation into the PFOS contamination. Last year, before the U.S. Senate adjourned for congressional recess in July, Schumer introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that required the Department of Defense (DOD) to launch an investigation to determine the extent of possible ground water contamination in the City of Newburgh. However, very few amendments were included in the final version of the NDAA. Undeterred, Schumer vowed to keep fighting for Newburgh and introduced stand-alone bill to ensure residents are neither left footing the cost of this cleanup effort, nor suffering the consequences from the contamination of Washington Lake.
In addition to the legislation Schumer introduced, he has made several phone calls and wrote several letters to the Department of Defense. Most recently Schumer and Gillibrand sent a letter to Lieutenant General L. Scott Rice, director of the Air National Guard to immediately release an expedited timeline for the identification and clean-up of any and all PFOS pollution. In May of 2016 Schumer called on the DOD to look into the extent of possible ground water contamination in the City of Newburgh. Additionally, last spring Schumer lead a delegation letter, calling on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to immediately provide testing and planning assistance to the City of Newburgh.
A copy of the joint letter to Assistant Secretary Ballentine appears at this link or below:
Assistant Secretary of the Air Force
1670 Air Force Pentagon
Washington, DC 20330
Dear Asst. Secretary Ballentine:
We are writing you on behalf of the thousands of families we represent in Newburgh, New York who for years have been exposed to contaminated drinking water. We are specifically requesting that the Department of Defense install mobile filtration technology at Stewart Air National Guard Base in order to immediately protect downstream waters from further PFOS contamination.
As you know, testing conducted by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) last summer found unacceptably high levels of PFOA and PFOS contaminants in the drinking water supply of Newburgh, New York. DEC test results from March 2016 showed that the water supply contamination likely came from the release of aqueous-forming foam (AFFF) from Stewart. The base has since been declared an Inactive Hazardous Waste Disposal Site (Class 2). We are aware of the ongoing site investigation being conducted by the Air Force, and we recognize that responsibility for the larger cleanup plan will require cooperation among all responsible parties.
Our constituents deserve access to clean water and an assurance that we are doing all we can to stop the continuing flow of PFOS-tainted water into the drinking supply. Therefore we are asking the Department of Defense to move swiftly and take the interim remedial measure of installing mobile filtration technology at the outlet of Recreation Pond at Stewart Air National Guard Base in order to minimize the ongoing environmental impact while a cleanup plan is constructed.
We look forward to your response and to working with you on this important issue.
Charles E. Schumer
United States Senator Democratic Leader
United States Senator
Sean Patrick Maloney
Member of Congress