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FEDERAL GOVERNMENT REFUSES TO REIMBURSE CITY OF NEWBURGH FOR EXPENSES INCURRED RESPONDING TO PFAS CONTAMINATION

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT REFUSES TO REIMBURSE CITY OF NEWBURGH FOR

EXPENSES INCURRED RESPONDING TO PFAS CONTAMINATION
From Stewart Air National Guard Base

The City of Newburgh has been advised that the federal government is refusing to reimburse the City for costs and damages it continues to incur to respond to contamination originating at the Stewart Air National Guard Base. The City of Newburgh filed a claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act in April 2018 requesting that the federal government pay for the City’s expenses and other damages resulting from the contamination of the former City’s water supply, Washington Lake, with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (“PFAS”). By letter dated January 29, 2019 from Department of the Air Force, the City was advised that its claim for damages was denied.

Interim City Manager Joseph Donat said the City is very grateful for the continuing efforts and support of Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and Representative Sean Patrick Maloney throughout the crisis, but is deeply disappointed that the federal government has denied the City’s claim. He went on to say, “the City just wants to protect its residents, get reimbursed for all of its expenses and get its watershed cleaned up. There is no doubt that Stewart ANG Base is a source of the PFAS that contaminated Washington Lake.”

The City switched its water supply to the Catskill Aqueduct in May 2016 after it was discovered that Washington Lake was contaminated PFAS. When the New York City Department of Environmental Protection shut down the Catskill Aqueduct for repairs in October 2018, the City switched its water supply to Brown’s Pond.

The City filed a lawsuit against the federal government in August 2018. Alan Knauf of Knauf Shaw LLP, attorneys retained by the City to file the claim, said, “the City continues to hope that the federal government will accept responsibility for the PFAS contamination it caused and work to protect City residents by stopping continuing discharges and cleaning up the watershed.”

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