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For Release: Tuesday, August 30, 2016

DEC and DOH Demand Reimbursement from EPA for State Costs Incurred during Hoosick Falls Response that are not Paid by Polluters

State Has Already Spent Almost $25 Million with at Least $50 Million in Additional Costs Expected

Confusing, Conflicting Guidance from EPA Exacerbated Hoosick Falls Situation

Commissioners to EPA Administrator McCarthy: "EPA has chosen not to regulate PFOA in drinking water-forcing state and local governments to adapt to confusing, changing, and inconsistent guidance"

Today, Department of Environmental Commissioner Basil Seggos and Department of Health Commissioner Howard Zucker officially requested that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reimburse New York State for any costs incurred during the response to the situation in Hoosick Falls that are not ultimately paid by the polluters.

In the letter, the commissioners make clear that the changing, conflicting guidance from the EPA about PFOA exacerbated the challenge in Hoosick Falls, resulting in undue public confusion and the marshaling of unprecedented state resources in order to adapt to the EPA's shifting advisories and recommendations.

"In a span of a few months, the EPA shifted their position repeatedly - changing the level from 400 parts per trillion to 100 parts per trillion in a single town, and then changing the national advisory level from 400 parts per trillion to 70 parts per trillion. In addition, the EPA has had different guidance for what to do when any of those levels are actually exceeded," said Commissioners Zucker and Seggos in the letter. "This generated undue public anxiety and different strategies and deployments for our agencies, resulting in the state marshaling unprecedented resources in order to adapt to the constantly shifting guidance and recommendations from the EPA. As a result, the EPA should reimburse the State for any costs not ultimately borne by the responsible parties."

To date, the state has already incurred close to $25 million and anticipates at least $50 million in additional costs in the coming years, including biomonitoring, installation and ongoing maintenance of home point of entry water treatment (POET) systems, full site remediation, and identification and connection to a permanent alternative water supply. The state remains fully committed to holding the responsible parties accountable for their actions.

Given the EPA's conflicting and inconsistent recommendations, the Commissioners also requested that the EPA provide standardized guidance for when a water system should be taken offline and when bottled water should be provided in the case of an exceedance of a health advisory level.

These requests were made in a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy (PDF, 206 KB).

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