After Contaminating Newburgh’s Water, Department of Defense finally Starts Clean up Process

“The Newburgh Clean Water Project is a group of volunteers from the City of Newburgh who are working to make sure that our water supply gets cleaned up for our generation, and the next many generations to come.” -Ophra Wolf, City Resident and member of the Newburgh Clean Water Project

“Extremely frustrated!!! and the biggest frustrated has been around the lack of information, and communication from the government agencies who we believe are supposed to be protecting us and who are also in this case responsible for the pollution.” -Ophra Wolf, City Resident and member of the Newburgh Clean Water Project

Newburgh NY Resident Ophra Wolf, her husband (Brown Jacket) and Dan Shapley of Riverkeepers

“Well I started to understand that something was wrong with the water just shortly before the news came out. So we bought a home filter just a few months before the state of Emergency was called. I felt it very strongly in my body. Yes, we continue to drink filtered water, now that we’re back on Brown’s pond.”

“There is a lot of concern because there are also people in the City of Newburgh who can’t afford to go out and buy a filter.” -Ophra Wolf

“A lot of people in the City of Newburgh that don’t even know how badly they need one.” -Ophra Wolf

“So how do you feel with this news from the Federal Government?”

“Well first of all, I feel like It’s good that we have some kind of movement, and for us, that was a non-starter. We can’t really start to think about how to filter and take care of our reservoir until the pollution stops at the source. So having a filter at Rec Pond is key for us to be able to make any movement forward. But we also feel that’s obviously not the solution because this poison is in the ground. So it’s a long term remediation that needs to happen. You know, the state agencies and the Department of Defense, Air National Guard, need to clean up the ground on that base. Otherwise those chemicals will continue leeching into our water over time, and we’re not thinking about ourselves, we’re thinking down the line. This is a start. We’re happy things are starting. We think that’s important. And we also want to make sure that from now on, as residents, we have a voice and there is transparency in the process. How do we know that that filter is actually doing it’s job. How do we know its being tested regularly? We were promised a resident advisory board, when the Department of Defense was here a month ago, for their first meeting and we haven’t heard anything about that! How do we make sure that residents are involved in the process of saying what kind of filter gets put there, because the filter they put in for us here in the City is actually, probably not good enough to filter out the full range of chemicals. It filters out one end of the range, but not the other. So we want to have a say in this, and we want to know what’s happening as things go because we want to make sure that we moving towards the right solution for the long term. Not just another band-aid and move on.” -Ophra Wolf, City Resident and member of the Newburgh Clean Water Project

“Ok. So explain to me Dan, what has happened?”

“So the Department of Defense has made the first real commitment to stop the discharges that are polluting the streams that feed this reservoir, which is City of Newburgh’s traditional source of water, as well the streams that fed down into the Hudson River. That’s the first, we’re heard that commitment from the Department of Defense so it’s a significant step.” -Dan Shapley/Riverkeepers Environmental Organization

“It a good step?”

“It’s a good step. We still need to see a lot more details to understand what standards are they going to meet, by filtering that discharge, and are they going to be able to handle high volumes and are they going to be transparent in the process so people in this community understand, and are part of those decisions.” -Dan Shapley/Riverkeepers Environmental Organization

“So it’s possible…conceivable, that they might be able to solve the problem?”

“This will still be an interim step. It’s important to understand this is supposed to be the quick fix that we asked for two and a half years ago. We still need a long-term comprehensive clean-up which is going to be a couple of years more to develop and implement. That has to happen in parallel. But this is a quick fix to stop the pollution from leaving the base and that is important.” -Dan Shapley/Riverkeepers Environmental Organization

“Let’s just say for argument’s sake that this is effective? Could you see the reservoir opening for use for the people of Newburgh anytime soon?”

“Those are important questions that we need to know the details about the filtration that’s going to be put on the base, and really address those first.” -Dan Shapley/Riverkeepers Environmental Organization

“I’m so pleased that after years of foot-dragging, the DOD and ANG are moving in a positive direction and commencing plans to implement long-awaited and desperately needed interim remedial measures around Stewart Air National Guard Base, including the installation of stormwater filtration equipment at the highest tested location, Recreation Pond. This equipment will be a key component of ensuring that PFOS-contaminated water is no longer continuing to flow off base and is thwarted from further infiltrating and toxifying the city’s primary drinking water source.” — New York Senator Charles Schumer

“No resident of Newburgh should have to worry that they will be harmed by the water they drink, nor should contaminated water continue flowing off base over two years since its discovery; once this critical filtration system is up and running within the next few months, we will be one step closer to making that a reality.” — New York Senator Charles Schumer

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Dominic Carter

Dominic Carter

Dominic Carter is a TV Political Commentator and WABC Talk Radio host in NY. Dominic is a Keynote Speaker on Children issues, Foster Care, and Mental Illness.