The State Health Department was aware of the drinking water problem for 18 months before local residents were told of the problem by the State. State and county health department held secret negotiations with the polluter in an effort to reach an agreement on how to deal with the problem, leaving unsuspecting residents, including children and pregnant women, to consume contaminated water every day.
“No family should have to live through what these people have had to endure,” said Nixon. “As a parent, I cannot imagine having to wonder about whether giving your child a glass of water could have put them at risk of future sickness. It is deeply troubling that the New York State Health Department, an agency that exists to protect our health, knew about this problem and did not tell local residents about it. We need a state government that puts the health of our people over the interests of corporate polluters.”
The federal Environmental Protection Agency ultimately stepped in and advised residents not to drink the water after a lack of action by the state Health Department. The contamination is so severe that parts of Hoosick Falls have been designated as Superfund sites, on both the New York State and federal EPA Superfund list.
If elected governor, Nixon said she will:
Require state and local health departments to rapidly inform local residents of risks to drinking water within 24 hours of learning of a problem.
Accelerate the state Superfund cleanup. If the polluters fail to cooperate, bring in the New York State Attorney General’s office to secure full funding for the cleanup.
Require the polluters to provide funding for a new, clean source of drinking water.
Establish a health monitoring program, similar to what was put in place after 9/11, so doctors can carefully monitor the health of residents who consumed contaminated water.
Direct state agencies to train businesses on pollution prevention and increased use of non-toxic products.
Nixon was joined by environmental leader Judith Enck. As EPA Regional Administrator during the Obama Administration, Enck instructed residents to stop drinking the contaminated water. Enck previously served as New York’s Deputy Secretary for the Environment in the Spitzer and Patterson administrations.
“As the federal official who alerted the public about the risk of drinking the toxic water in Hoosick Falls, I continue to be concerned that the State of New York has not learned the lessons from their water crisis,” said Enck. “It is time for new environmental leadership in New York.”