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Filtering, flushing is set for Hoosick Falls

Photo: Lori Van Buren

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From left, Commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Basil Seggos, Director of State Operations Jim Malatras and Commissioner of Health for New York State Dr. Howard Zucker explain how the state is flushing the Hoosick Falls water and installing filters for PFOA on Friday, Feb. 26, 2016 in Hoosick Falls, N.Y. (Lori Van Buren / Times Union) less
From left, Commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Basil Seggos, Director of State Operations Jim Malatras and Commissioner of Health for New York State Dr. Howard Zucker … more
Photo: Lori Van Buren

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From left, Town Supervisor Mark Surdam, Commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Basil Seggos, Director of State Operations Jim Malatras and Commissioner of Health for New York State Dr. Howard Zucker explain how the state is flushing the Hoosick Falls water and installing filters for PFOA on Friday, Feb. 26, 2016 in Hoosick Falls, N.Y. (Lori Van Buren / Times Union) less
From left, Town Supervisor Mark Surdam, Commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Basil Seggos, Director of State Operations Jim Malatras and Commissioner of Health for New … more
Photo: Lori Van Buren

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From left, Commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Basil Seggos, Director of State Operations Jim Malatras and Commissioner of Health for New York State Dr. Howard Zucker explain how the state is flushing the Hoosick Falls water and installing filters for PFOA on Friday, Feb. 26, 2016 in Hoosick Falls, N.Y. (Lori Van Buren / Times Union) less
From left, Commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Basil Seggos, Director of State Operations Jim Malatras and Commissioner of Health for New York State Dr. Howard Zucker … more
Photo: Lori Van Buren

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Director of State Operations Jim Malatras, along with other officials explains how the state is flushing Hoolsick Falls water and installing filters for PFOA on Friday, Feb. 26, 2016 in Hoosick Falls, N.Y. (Lori Van Buren / Times Union) less
Director of State Operations Jim Malatras, along with other officials explains how the state is flushing Hoolsick Falls water and installing filters for PFOA on Friday, Feb. 26, 2016 in Hoosick Falls, N.Y. … more
Photo: Lori Van Buren

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From left, Commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Basil Seggos, Director of State Operations Jim Malatras and Commissioner of Health for New York State Dr. Howard Zucker explain how the state is flushing the Hoosick Falls water and installing filters for PFOA on Friday, Feb. 26, 2016 in Hoosick Falls, N.Y. (Lori Van Buren / Times Union) less
From left, Commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Basil Seggos, Director of State Operations Jim Malatras and Commissioner of Health for New York State Dr. Howard Zucker … more
Photo: Lori Van Buren

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Hoosick Town Supervisor Mark Surdam speaks after state officials explained how the state is flushing the Hoosick Falls water and installing filters for PFOA on Friday, Feb. 26, 2016 in Hoosick Falls, N.Y. (Lori Van Buren / Times Union) less
Hoosick Town Supervisor Mark Surdam speaks after state officials explained how the state is flushing the Hoosick Falls water and installing filters for PFOA on Friday, Feb. 26, 2016 in Hoosick Falls, N.Y. (Lori … more
Photo: Lori Van Buren

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Hoosick Falls mayor David Borge speaks after state officials explained how the state is flushing the Hoosick Falls water and installing filters for PFOA on Friday, Feb. 26, 2016 in Hoosick Falls, N.Y. (Lori Van Buren / Times Union) less
Hoosick Falls mayor David Borge speaks after state officials explained how the state is flushing the Hoosick Falls water and installing filters for PFOA on Friday, Feb. 26, 2016 in Hoosick Falls, N.Y. (Lori Van … more
Photo: Lori Van Buren

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Filtering, flushing is set for Hoosick Falls

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Hoosick Falls

Top officials of the Cuomo administration came to this community on Friday to provide an update on their efforts to install water filters and flush out existing water supplies — and ferret out what could be other sources of the chemical in the area’s groundwater.

The news conference, at the village armory, appeared to have been quickly arranged following an online story in the Times Union that state Department of Environmental Conservation officials were told about toxic perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA in the Petersburgh area more than a decade ago. And another story in Politico NY on Friday outlined how a 2014 a state Health Department engineer had warned her agency about PFOA in Petersburgh, although no action was taken until this winter.

“Things are actually starting to happen,” said state Operations Director Jim Malatras who was flanked by Environmental Commissioner Basil Seggos and Health Commissioner Howard Zucker.

Hoosick Falls residents have been relying on bottled water since January when the state said that levels of PFOA, a suspected carcinogen associated with thyroid malfunctions and other health problems, were above safe levels.

The state has installed a carbon filter system for the municipal water treatment plant and will be flushing the system starting on Saturday, said Malatras. The community has been divided into six zones for that purpose and should have the filtered water ready for drinking in about a week and a half.

Additionally, the state will be installing filters on private wells and will then test that water. Until this process is completed, residents are being asked to drink bottled water.

In addition to well testing offered by the state, Zucker said more than 1,000 residents have requested “biomonitoring.” So far, 436 blood samples have been taken far and another round of blood testing will be offered on Saturday.

As to whether officials are unearthing new sources of PFOA, Seggos suggested they could end up finding the chemical in a number of spots around the area. “We’re getting a lot of very good information right now,” said Segos. “From the well tests we’re doing, from the tips that have come in … we’re finding new things every day.”

They have, however, tested water in nearby Berlin but haven’t found PFOA there, officials said.

There’s no firm timetable for when they’ll have a complete picture of PFOA in the area.

Regardless of the schedule, the chemical is turning up in lots of wells and at levels above what is now viewed as the acceptable concentration of 100 parts per trillion.

Malatras said 118 private wells have been tested, with two dozen containing water that is higher than the 100 ppt level.

Officials have also gotten 265 requests to install residential water filters — so far they expect to have 52 installed during the next several days.

When asked why they didn’t move faster late last year when they learned of the PFOA, state officials reiterated their stance that the chemical is not on an official federal EPA list of toxins although the agency has posted warnings about it.

The acceptable level for short-term exposure was lowered by the EPA in January from 400 to 100 ppt.

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