In November 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) urged the Mayor of Hoosick Falls, New York, to warn residents that the toxic chemical perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) had been found at concerning levels in the groundwater. They also recommended that bottled water be provided to residents until the situation could be addressed and the water cleaned up.
It wasn’t until January 2016, however, that Governor Cuomo announced a state of emergency and started taking action to protect the public. Since then, many residents have been receiving shipments of bottled water to use for drinking and cooking. On March 13, 2016, the New York Times reported that the new filter system installed in Hoosick Falls had successfully cleared the PFOA from the municipal water supply.
Bottled water deliveries have continued, though, mostly for those residents deemed to be elderly or ill, since they are potentially more vulnerable to even low levels of PFO contamination, and because they are unable to go out and get bottled water themselves.
However, after the state turned the job over to plastics company Saint Gobain,—the company believed to be responsible for polluting the water in the first place—some residents have been removed from the delivery list without explanation.
Residents Concerned They’re Not Receiving Bottled Water
At the end of September 2016, residents were notified that Saint Gobain would take over distributing bottled water to residents, as part of a consent order between the State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the company. Prior to that, the church organization “HACA” had been delivering the water.
The order stated that the company would provide bottled water to the elderly and ill residents in the village, but some residents have since reported that they are not receiving their water, or that they were unknowingly taken off the list.
The Mayor of Hoosick Falls recently stated that some residents were removed from the delivery list because “it was determined that they were not elderly or infirm.”
These residents, however, say they were not informed that they were being pulled off the list. They simply stopped receiving water deliveries.
HACA did send a letter out informing people that Saint Gobain would be taking over the job of delivering water, but there was no letter sent to those residents who were removed from the delivery list.
Residents Concerned About Having to Reveal Medical Records
According to the order between the state and Saint Gobain, the company is supposed to provide water to the aged and infirmed, after a request and justification has been submitted and approved by the village clerk.
Residents are now concerned that they will be required to provide medical records to prove that they need the bottled water deliveries. They don’t feel that the company should have access to their private information, especially when it was their fault that the water was contaminated in the first place.
The mayor has assured residents that they need only contact the village clerk and request to be put back on the list. But in an email to NEWS 10 ABC’s Lindsay Nielsen, the mayor told the village clerk that staff will ask for written validation of age and physical limitations and or a physician’s written recommendation.
Residents who believe they suffered serious injuries and/or illnesses because of the contaminated water may be eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit against Saint Gobain and the former owner of the plastics plant, Honeywell.
Exclusively focused on representing plaintiffs, especially in mass tort litigation, Eric Chaffin prides himself on providing unsurpassed professional legal services in pursuit of the specific goals of his clients and their families. Both his work and his cases have been featured in the national press, including on ABC’s Good Morning America.