ALBANY— While the Cuomo administration has been extensively criticized for its slow reaction to the unfolding Hoosick Falls water pollution crisis, a new trove of emails and meeting notes shows how top state Department of Health officials actively dismissed the Obama administration’s increasingly dire warnings and recommended safe consumption levels.
The Cuomo administration resisted sounding a public alarm even though federal regulators warned senior health department officials that people in Hoosick Falls should be alerted they were drinking water that contained dangerous levels of a chemical linked to cancer and other serious health problems, according to documents recently obtained by POLITICO New York through a Freedom of Information Request.
Among other points of contention, health department employees dismissed an advisory limit for human consumption of PFOA set by the federal Environmental Protection Agency, and argued that their differences with the federal authorities were a matter of “philosophy” and not just science, according to a senior EPA official’s handwritten notes from a phone conference with state officials.
POLITICO has previously reported that the state waited more than a year to make a significant intervention in Hoosick Falls, despite knowing that PFOA levels in the public water supply exceeded federal guidance. It has also been reported that the state health department indicated to residents that their water was safe to drink even though federal regulators claimed otherwise. The new documents indicate that the state didn't just react more slowly than the federal authorities, but actively disputed the concerns of the EPA officials.