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Schumer Tours Washington Lake, Urges Accountability For Pollution

Sen. Chuck Schumer toured Washington Lake on Aug. 9 and announced legislation that would require the Air Force to conduct tests regarding groundwater contamination that polluted the lake, which was the city’s water source. The pollution is believed to have come from the Stewart Air National Guard Base. If the Air Force is responsible, his legislation would require it pay for the cleanup. Schumer is seen here with County Executive Steve Neuhaus and City Manager Michael Ciaravino. (photo by Bob Root)

XXX Sentinel

Sen. Chuck Schumer toured Washington Lake on Aug. 9 and announced legislation that would require the Air Force to conduct tests regarding groundwater contamination that polluted the lake, which was the city’s water source. The pollution is believed to have come from the Stewart Air National Guard Base. If the Air Force is responsible, his legislation would require it pay for the cleanup. Schumer is seen here with County Executive Steve Neuhaus and City Manager Michael Ciaravino. (photo by Bob Root)

By Laura Giner Bair

City and county elected officials greeted Sen. Chuck Schumer on Aug. 9 at Masterson Park, as Schumer toured Washington Lake in response to high levels of contamination detected in the city’s water supply.

Schumer plans to hold the Stewart Air National Guard base accountable for the contamination, which is believed to be the source of the pollution known as perfluorooctane sulfonate, or PFOS. New legislation proposed by Schumer would require “the Air Force to do right by the people of the City of Newburgh,” he said.

The Air National Guard is believed to have used foam retardants during drills at the Stewart Air National Guard Base, which some have pinpointed as the cause of PFOS seeping into the water system.

Schumer’s legislation would require the Air Force to “conduct tests… and if found culpable… pay for clean up,” he said. If the Air Force is found culpable, it will need to “release an expedited timeline detailing the immediate steps that will be taken to mitigate the contamination and ensure the critical water supplies residents rely upon are no longer impacted,” Schumer said.

Wayne Vradenburgh, the city’s deputy superintendent of water, said: “Our main concern is public health. State, county, and city staff are working as a team to solve this problem. Politics doesn’t have a role in how we are working together.”

In addition to health concerns resulting from residents consuming the contaminated water, many of whom are calling for free blood testing, the city faces a financial burden for switching to New York City’s Catskill Aqueduct for clean water, as well as for developing a new water filtration system.

To read the full article see the Friday, Aug. 12 editions of The Sentinel and Orange County Post. 

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