Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Newburgh, New York: Residents suing over water contamination



CITY OF NEWBURGH – Residents from the City of Newburgh and surrounding towns are suing the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and two manufacturers over their exposure to the toxic chemical that closed down the city’s main water supply.

Attorneys for New York City law firm Napoli Shkolnik accuse the defendants of negligence in allowing aviation firefighting foams used at Stewart International Airport and Stewart Air National Guard Base to infiltrate the watershed supplying Newburgh’s Washington Lake.

Newburgh stopped drawing water from the lake in May 2016 over levels of perfluorooctane sulfonate, or PFOS, one of the main chemicals in the foams.

Kidney and testicular cancers, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and ulcerative colitis are among the health problems associated with perfluorinated compounds, the class of chemicals to which PFOS belongs.

“Everyone has a right to clean water, and it’s time that those responsible be held accountable,” said attorney Tate Kunkle.

In addition to the Port Authority, which operates Stewart Airport, the 85-page complaint names manufacturers 3M and Tyco Products L.P., as successor-in-interest to foam manufacturer Ansul Co.

Among the plaintiffs are residents with blood tests showing elevated levels of PFOS and some saying they have associated illnesses, including testicular cancer, ulcerative colitis, high blood pressure and pregnancy complications.

Most are from the City of Newburgh, but some live in the towns of New Windsor and Newburgh and have contaminated wells.

3M was one of the primary manufacturers of PFOS-based products, including stain- and water-resistant fabrics and consumer products like Scotchgard. The company announced in 2000 that it would phase out production of PFOS in an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

By then, two major incidents involving firefighting foams had already occurred at the airport and air base.

State investigators hunting the source of Washington Lake’s contamination said 4,000 gallons of foam were accidently released from a hanger-based sprinkler system at Stewart Air Base in 1990.

Another likely source of contamination came in 1996, when foams were used on a FedEx airplane that burst into flames after an emergency landing at the airport.

Firefighters at the airport and air base also underwent routine training with the foams.

“It is a sad state of affairs when Fortune 500 companies and governmental entities systematically poison a city of 30,000 people here in the United States, and then bury their head in the sand hoping the problem just disappears,” Kunkle said.

Spokespersons from the Port Authority and 3M declined to comment.

Napoli Shkolnik unsuccessfully sought to file a late notice of claim against the City of Newburgh in March on behalf of dozens of residents. They alleged that the city allowed Washington Lake to become contaminated and continued drawing water after PFOS levels became dangerous.

Original article can be found here ➤ http://www.recordonline.com

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