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Maloney calls on Department of Defense to Immediately Install PFAS Filtration System at Stewart Air National Guard Base

Oct 4, 2019
Press Release

Maloney calls on Department of Defense to Immediately Install PFAS Filtration System at Stewart Air National Guard Base

Newburgh - Today, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18) called on the Department of Defense to immediately begin the installation of the long-awaited filtration system at Stewart Air National Guard Base in New Windsor. The filtration system will purify water contaminated with high levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in the water supply near the base. The project was originally projected to be completed by August.

“When the Department of Defense heeded our call and announced this project earlier this year, they said a filtration system would be installed within 6 months. That was in February. It’s now October and work hasn’t even started. The health of Hudson Valley families is at risk and we can’t wait any longer. It’s time they stop stalling and get to work,” said Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney.

PFAS are commonly referred to as “forever chemicals”, as the toxins don’t break down over time and have been linked to serious health effects including cancer, premature death, asthma, and infertility.

High levels of PFAS contaminants were first discovered in the Recreation Pond at Stewart Air National Guard Base in New Windsor in 2016. At the urging of Rep. Maloney and Sens. Schumer and Gillibrand, the Department of Defense agreed to implement a filtration system to halt the continued discharge of contaminated water into the pond and other identified PFAS-hot spots.

In May, Rep. Maloney introduced H.R. 2608, the PFAS Testing Act of 2019, to require the testing of PFAS under the Toxic Substances Control Act. Rep. Maloney has also introduced legislation to establish a Centers for Disease Control (CDC) study on the long-term health effects of water contaminant exposure and has fought for the inclusion of PFAS contaminant mitigation funds in the annual national defense reauthorization bill package. He also worked with local, state and federal officials to call for an immediate investigation into the water contamination in the Hudson Valley and fought to ensure city residents didn’t get stuck with the clean-up bill.

The text of Rep. Maloney’s letter is below, and a copy of the letter can be found here:

 

 

Lieutenant General L. Scott Rice

Director of the Air National Guard

1670 Air Force, Pentagon

Washington, D.C. 20330


Dear Lt. Gen. Rice:

 

I am writing to express my deep concern at the lack of progress of the Recreation Pond filtration system installation process at Stewart Air National Guard Base in New Windsor, New York. I strongly urge you to immediately expedite this process and provide my office with an update on the status of the filtration system installation to affected communities in our district.

In March 2016, testing of Recreation Pond’s water found abnormally and unacceptably high levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). As you know, PFAS are frequently found in aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) and the contamination likely came from the release of AFFF from Stewart Air National Guard Base. Recreation Pond is a tributary of Washington Lake, the City of Newburgh’s drinking water source. While the residents of Newburgh currently have access to clean water, the ongoing contamination at Recreation Pond and the potential for further contamination of Washington Lake is extremely troubling.

I was encouraged by the Department of Defense’s decision to install a filtration system at the dam surrounding Recreation Pond, and the announcement that – within 6 months of awarding a contract in February 2019 – water at Recreation Pond would start being filtered. However, it is now October, and the filtration system is neither running nor has installation of this system even started. This means that PFAS contamination continues and poses an unacceptable risk to public health.

The filtration system installation on the dam surrounding Recreation Pond is vital to effectively remove PFAS contaminates in the local drinking water system and ensure the health and well-being of my constituents. Therefore, I urge you and all other involved agencies to prioritize the swift completion of this project and I request that you provide my office with updated timeline for the installation of the filtration system and anticipated commencement of water filtration.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. I look forward to your prompt response.

Sincerely,

Sean Patrick Maloney

Member of Congress