Maloney Takes Federal Action to Make DoD Pay for Remediation of Newburgh Water Contamination
Newburgh, NY — Representative Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18) announced he is taking legislative action to ensure the Department of Defense pays for the remediation of PFOS and PFOA contamination at Stewart Air National Guard Base. Rep. Maloney is introducing an amendment to the Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2018, which would require $35 million to be used specifically for mitigation actions at National Guard installations where site inspections revealed PFC contamination. Rep. Maloney also supported the inclusion of language in the bill to provide an additional $15 million to Department of Defense for carbon filtration of PFCs at contaminated sites like Stewart.
Since abnormally and unacceptably high levels of Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) were found in Newburgh’s water, Rep. Maloney has worked with local, state and federal officials to call for an immediate investigation, hold those responsible accountable, and ensure residents in Newburgh have a clean water source and access to blood tests without placing the financial burden on the City.
“We’ve secured clean drinking water at no cost to local taxpayers and we got free blood testing for residents – the last order of business is making sure DoD takes responsibility and pays for any clean up. I won’t take no for an answer so I’m taking legislative action to force DoD to pay for the damage they’ve caused in Newburgh,” said Rep. Maloney. “Thanks to the City of Newburgh, Commissioner Seggos and Governor Cuomo for joining me in this effort – together we’ll finish this fight.”
“It’s clear from our ongoing research that the Department of Defense must move more quickly to clean up their mess in the Newburgh area,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “Their continued recalcitrance to advance priority actions to eliminate sources of contamination in these waterbodies must end, and I am formally demanding they immediately take action to address contamination coming from Recreation Pond. We commend Congressman Maloney for pushing the federal government to act.”
“Once again, we are reminded of the impact that this environmental issue has had on Orange County and our residents. I renew my calls to the DOD to take responsibility in remediating the hazardous conditions that were created in Newburgh and I applaud Congressman Maloney for his diligence in reference to this important public health issue,” said Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus.
“I want to thank Congressman Maloney for giving us the support and the backup that we needed at the right time to say that we as city officials have made the right call and that we’re doing the right thing to serve our residents in the City of Newburgh,” said Newburgh City Manager Michael Ciaravino.
After the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) declared Stewart Air National Guard (ANG) base a state Superfund site, Rep. Maloney called on the Department of Defense (DoD) to comply with the DEC’s request for a federal remediation program. Immediately after declaring Stewart ANG base an Inactive Hazardous Waste Disposal Site (Class 2), more commonly referred to as a state Superfund site, DEC sent a letter to DoD requesting that they enter into a legally binding agreement to carry out a remediation program with the state and bear some of the cost. Following this request, Rep. Maloney sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, requesting expeditious compliance with this request and “a commitment from the Department of Defense to develop, implement, and finance a Remedial Program for the contamination site.” On September 20, Maloney and state officials announced the launch of the New York State Department of Health’s biomonitoring program for Newburgh. In addition to hundreds of Newburgh residents, Rep. Maloney received his results as part of the round of blood test results released in February.
In May 2016, Rep. Maloney called on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to immediately set a clear national standard for acceptable levels of PFOA and PFOS in drinking water. Rep. Maloney also renewed calls for the EPA to provide immediate material assistance to the City of Newburgh to remediate the contamination. On May 13, Rep. Maloney called on the DoD to immediately conduct an investigation into the likely source of the pollution – Stewart Air National Guard Base. In addition to calling for a review of the source of the contaminant, Rep. Maloney asked the DoD to ensure total remediation for the City of Newburgh. On June 8, after a strong push, Rep. Maloney announced that the DoD added Stewart ANG base to their review list and made the investigation into Newburgh water contamination a first priority. After initial reports of contamination in the City of Newburgh water, Rep. Maloney and Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand wrote a letter to the EPA calling for immediate assistance to determine the source of the contamination, test contaminant levels, and formulate a remediation plan.
Rep. Maloney has also introduced two pieces of legislation to improve and expand testing and research for possible contamination of water supplies. Investing in Testing Act authorizes $15 million for a two year study by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to determine the health impact of PFOS contamination in drinking water, and The Clean Water Healthy Communities Act would require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to test unregulated contaminants in communities with fewer than 10,000 people. The current EPA requirement for testing only applies to communities with more than 10,000 residents.