A second plastics company is supplying clean drinking water to residents of a New York town, after the local water system was found to be contaminated with a potential carcinogen used in making fluoropolymers.
Taconic Inc. is providing free bottled water to residents of the small town of Petersburgh, N.Y., after the local water system tested positive for perfluorooctanic acid contamination at levels just below that considered safe under advisory standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Petersburgh is 12 miles away from Hoosick Falls, N.Y., where PFOA has also been found in local water supplies, and where Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics is spending more than $3 million to upgrade the town's water treatment systems.
Saint-Gobain, which has two factories in Hoosick Falls making products from fluoropolymers, has also been providing residents there with bottled water for drinking and cooking. New York officials have designated one Saint-Gobain factory in Hoosick Falls a Superfund site because of PFOA pollution.
In Petersburgh, local government began distributing water beginning Feb. 21 after tests of the town's drinking water supplies showed PFOA concentrations at 93.9 and 95.9 parts per trillion two samples, according to a Feb. 20 statement from the New York State Department of Health.
The EPA said people should not drink water with more than 100 parts per trillion PFOA, but that's an advisory standard. Drinking water in Hoosick Falls tested at more than 600 parts per trillion.
Petersburgh's town government said in a statement that the Taconic factory in Petersburgh is “the closest potential source of the PFOA contamination.”
“Although the levels detected in the Water District are below the current advisory level, out of an abundance of caution, the [state government] requested, and Taconic has agreed, to immediately begin providing bottled water,” the statement said.
Taconic, which employs 230 people in Petersburgh, provides polytetrafluoroethylene-coated fabric and other materials. It said PTFE and fiberglass fabric are base materials for almost all of its products.
“Taconic is in the process of conducting a site evaluation and has asked NYSDEC [New York State Department of Environmental Conservation] and NYSDOH [New York State Department of Health] for their guidance,” the company said. “The company is fully cooperating with both agencies and will take whatever steps these agencies deem appropriate regarding this matter.”
Taconic said there are 74 homes on the Petersburgh water system.
The New York Department of Health said it began sampling Petersburgh's water after being notified by Taconic that “groundwater at their facility in Petersburgh was contaminated with PFOA.” A Taconic spokeswoman declined to elaborate.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo also announced Feb. 20, in connection with the Petersburgh and Hoosick Falls situations, that the government would create a statewide water quality rapid response team.
The group's tasks include looking at how to better regulate chemicals like PFOA and “address the complicated issues surrounding contaminants that are not regulated by the Federal EPA.”