Rensselaer County Executive Steve McLaughlin today announced he has directed the County Attorney to prepare legal action against the manufacturers of PFOA as Rensselaer County works to track new contamination sources found in Poestenkill.
McLaughlin said he believes the county would have the ability to join with residents in bringing legal action if more PFOA is discovered in Poestenkill or other municipalities. Two new samples were found this summer after state-mandated testing at Algonquin Middle School was conducted, and a positive sample found at the school.
The county already has seen a major PFOA issue in the Village of Hoosick Falls and the Town of Petersburgh, resulting in years of legal action and interruptions to the lives of residents.
“We want to send the very clear message that we take the PFOA issue seriously and will take strong and sustained action to protect the interests of our residents. The health, safety and quality of life for our residents is not up for negotiation,” said McLaughlin.
“This is a considerable issue to be facing as we are already dealing with a pandemic and also dealing with an opioid crisis. Rensselaer County residents should not be forced to deal with this as well,” added McLaughlin.
In addition to directing the County Attorney to lay the groundwork for legal action, McLaughlin said he is also directing all county departments to preserve any and all information, correspondence, messages or documents related to PFOA in Poestenkill and other areas. McLaughlin is additionally directing county departments to document time spent dealing or responding to the PFOA issue.
The county hosted a virtual meeting to update Poestenkill residents last week to provide an update on county efforts to respond to the PFOA issue. The county is now working with the New York State Department of Health and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to conduct a second round of testing of residences. No source of the PFOA in Poestenkill has yet been discovered.
McLaughlin’s office has discussed the issue of bringing legal action against manufacturers with Vice Chairwoman Kelly Hoffman and Legislators Rob Bayly, Tom Grant and Leon Fiacco, and they are supportive of the action.
“We are closely monitoring the situation and support readying legal action against manufacturers. We will not sit by if this PFOA situation worsens and more residents are impacts,” said Hoffman.
“The county is already spending considerable time and resources responding to this issue. Residents and property owners are dealing with stress and interruptions to their lives. That is unfair and hurts the people we represent,” said Fiacco.
“We need to be prepared to bring legal action and help defend the interests of our residents if the situation worsens. This is unfair for our residents and the county to be dealing with at this point in time,” said Grant.
“Many of my neighbors are worried about this issue, and concerned about the safety of their water and the environment. This is an action that is unfortunately necessary to take at this time to protect Poestenkill,” said Bayly.