When dredging of the Hudson in Halfmoon was completed late last year, Supervisor Mindy Wormuth said the town was assured by the EPA that there was no reason to believe any PCB sediment would be stirred up.
Once it was at the bottom of the river, that's where it would stay, we were told, said Wormuth.
But stirred up it was when high levels of PCBs were found during required water testing on Wednesday, March 24. This was reported to the town on Friday, March 26, and the town immediately shut off its own water line and hooked back up to the City of Troy's which it used during the previous dredging process. Wormuth said because PCBs have become a problem when she was assured they wouldn't be, she sees the town remaining on Troy water for "the foreseeable future."
The EPA's report showed levels of PCBs exceeded 2,000 parts per trillion, when the standard for safe drinking water is 500 parts per trillion. While testing continues to discover if this was an isolated incident or a recurring problem, the reason for this jump is still unknown.
"We have no idea why and I don't think GE or EPA has a good explanation either; they're just guessing at what could have happened but the town is not willing to take that risk [of remaining on town water]," said Wormuth.
Wormuth said she doesn't want residents to panic, emphasizing that any water coming out of the river is run through a carbon filter system before it reaches homes, removing any dangerous levels of PCBs. She said the contaminated water shouldn't be seen as an immediate health risk or alarm anyone who may have consumed it. The concern, she said, is long term exposure.
"We don't want to continue using water with high PCB levels over a long period of time because studies show it's the bioaccumulation of PCBs that are a danger to people. We don't want to panic anyone and have them think they had a one time or small number of exposures there's an immediate health risk because there's not," said Wormuth.