Sunday, July 17, 2016

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Air Force acknowledges Stewart base “may be a source” of Newburgh’s contaminated water

NEWBURGH – The US Air Force says it is taking “very seriously” the possibility that perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) that contaminated the City of Newburgh’s drinking water may have been released from the Stewart Air National Guard Base.

Before the Air National Guard can obligate funds “to initiate mitigation actions,” it must first confirm the release of PFCs off base from their facilities, according to Col. Keith MacDonald, Air Force director of Logistics and Installations.

In a letter to Mayor Judy Kennedy obtained by, MacDonald said the Air Force is awaiting a report from the state Department of Environmental Conservation to summarize the sampling they have performed at stormwater outfalls and surface water locations. He said the Air National Guard will also be conducting a site investigation at the Stewart base to determine the concentration of PFCs in soil and groundwater at 13 potential release sites on the base. The contract is expected to be awarded by the end of July with soil and groundwater sampling to begin this fall. That study will be conducted in coordination with the state DEC and federal Environmental Protection Agency.

The Air Force is also planning to perform sampling of surface water leaving the Guard base, the retention pond, and along the Silver Stream, MacDonald wrote. “If we confirm a release has occurred from Stewart ANGB, the ANG will work with the City of Newburgh and local, state and federal officials to determine the optimal mitigation actions.”

The chemicals PFOA and PFOS were discovered earlier this year in Newburgh’s drinking water supply, Washington Lake and since then, that source was shut down. The city is now receiving its water from the New York City Catskill Aqueduct with the state committing to pay the cost, which could be as high as $250,000 per month.

The state has also said it would install an expensive, new filtration system at Washington Lake to purify the water, making it safe to drink.


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