August 24, 2018

With PFAS Chemicals Still Contaminating Water Supplies In Communities Across New York, Gillibrand Calls On EPA To Hold Community Engagement Meeting To Hear Directly From New Yorkers, Include Their Input In Federal PFAS Cleanup Plan

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today called on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to hold a meeting to hear directly from New Yorkers who have been affected by the harmful contaminants known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The water supplies in numerous communities across New York are still contaminated by these chemicals, which are proven to have harmful effects on human and environmental health. The EPA is currently drafting a PFAS cleanup plan and has met with communities in New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Colorado, and North Carolina.

“Families and communities all over New York State have suffered from toxic water contamination, and the EPA has a responsibility to listen to their concerns, respond to them, and address this crisis,” said Senator Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “I urge the EPA to do the right thing and give New Yorkers the opportunity they deserve to talk directly to the EPA about their experiences. No New Yorker should ever have to worry that their water is going to make them sick, and I will continue to do everything in my power in the Senate to ensure that our water supplies are clean and safe.”

Gillibrand successfully secured $45 million for PFAS cleanup in the Fiscal Year 2019 Defense-Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Act, which passed the Senate this week. This funding would help communities that have suffered from PFAS contamination as a result of activity from the U.S. Air Force and Air National Guard, such as Newburgh, New York, which faces contamination due to activity from the Stewart Air National Guard Base. Gillibrand also successfully fought to get communities in New York State with PFAS contamination designated as federal Superfund sites, ensuring that the responsible parties are held accountable and will help with the expensive remediation and cleanup of contaminated soil and water. She helped secure millions of dollars in funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to conduct a nationwide study on PFAS health effects, and demanded that the Trump Administration release the Department of Health and Human Services study it was trying to hide that revealed that the minimal risk level for human exposure to PFOA and PFOS, two types of PFAS, should be seven to 10 times lower than the level previous recommended as safe by the EPA.

A copy of Senator Gillibrand’s letter may be found HERE and below:

August 24, 2018

The Honorable Andrew Wheeler

Acting Administrator

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

1200 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, D.C. 20004

Dear Acting Administrator Wheeler:

            I write to request that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hold a per- and polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) Community Engagement Meeting for the state of New York. As the EPA continues to meet with communities affected by these harmful contaminants, I hope you will arrange a meeting to hear directly from New Yorkers. 

            Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, are a class of toxic chemicals affecting communities across the nation. These chemical substances are linked to certain cancers and other serious adverse health effects. They are often used to manufacture products like fabric protectors, firefighting foam, and stain repellents due to rigorous chemical properties that also make them persistent in the environment and resistant to degradation.

            I am encouraged by the EPA’s continued attention to PFAS contamination issues and the harmful human health impacts it causes. At EPA’s PFAS National Leadership Summit and Engagement this past May, participants worked together to identify necessary next steps in addressing the problems caused by PFAS contamination. Among other recommendations and information provided at the PFAS National Leadership Summit, the EPA announced it would conduct site visits to affected areas to inform the development of a PFAS Management Plan for release later this year. As the EPA drafts this plan, it is imperative to engage all relevant stakeholders. PFAS contamination has harmed communities throughout New York – including in the City of Newburgh, Westhampton Beach, and Hoosick Falls – and the residents who have suffered deserve to be heard so that the EPA can work with expediency to remediate and clean up this threat to public health.

            The EPA has already conducted PFAS Community Engagement Meetings in New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Colorado, and North Carolina. New York has been significantly impacted by the presence of PFAS in drinking water and should be included as part of the EPA’s public engagement efforts concerning the PFAS Management Plan.

            I look forward to continuing to work with EPA to keep our environment clean and our water safe to drink. If there are any questions or concerns, please contact my staff.

Thank you,