Friday, February 24, 2017

Water pollution settlement delayed in Hoosick Falls, NY

Marie J. French reports for Politico/NY:

HOOSICK FALLS (NY) — The village board decided on Thursday to postpone discussion of a revised settlement with two companies held responsible for polluting the water here with PFOA.

Mayor David Borge said a village trustee had a family health emergency and would not be present at the meeting. That's why he wanted to postpone any action on the $1 million settlement with the two companies, Saint Gobain and Honeywell.

Residents had gathered in the Hoosick Armory in anticipation of the meeting, with some holding cardboard signs that read, “Deeply Polluted Village, Deeply Flawed Settlement” and “Clean Water Doesn’t Come Cheap.”

Borge’s announcement drew shouts of outrage from residents. “You’re running like a coward,” shouted Hoosick Falls resident Desiray Rice as Borge headed toward the door.

The revised settlement has drawn criticism from former EPA chief Judith Enck, former state Department of Health official Dr. Howard Freed and a lawyer with Healthy Hoosick Water, an advocacy group. The settlement includes a release of any future claims by the village over PFOA contamination in the village’s existing water supply.

The $1 million figure is $195,000 more than a previous settlement proposal that residents fiercely criticized at a lengthy public meeting in January. About half will go to pay lawyers, engineering and communications consultants hired by the village. The rest will cover the village’s losses from decreased water use and other costs of dealing with the crisis.

Residents are still not happy with the proposal. “We all vote no,” a group chanted immediately after Borge’s announcement.

“This is not serving the village. This is reckless and laughable,” said Silvia Potter, a resident of Hoosick Falls.

David Engel, the lawyer with Health Hoosick Water, said earlier this week that the settlement should either be much larger or not include a release for future claims.

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