Saint-Gobain, the French company that has made Teflon-coated materials at a plant in the village of Hoosick Falls for decades, has retained a top lobbying firm as it braces for federal and state investigations and the possibility of enormous cleanup and legal costs for the contamination it may have caused in the village's water supply.
Cozen O'Connor, which is the firm that Saint-Gobain has hired, already has its lobbyists beginning to reach out to federal elected officials in the state. Kenneth Fisher, a former New York City councilman, and Stuart Shorenstein are working with the company.
Spokeswoman Dina Pokedoff denied that Saint-Gobain was increasing its lobbying amid the Hoosick Falls water-contamination situation.
How exactly Hoosick Falls' water supply became contaminated with industrial chemicals has not yet been determined. The Environmental Protection Agency is investigating and Governor Cuomo's administration has declared that it will designate it a Superfund site, which could leave whoever was responsibly liable for cleanup efforts that could cost up to tens of millions.
On Tuesday, Saint-Gobain began installing a temporary facility to treat the water in the village of about 5,000 people. The state Department of Health has signed off on that facility, which will be in place until a permanent system is installed later this year, according to Mayor David Borge. Saint-Gobain will pay more than $300,000 for the temporary system.
"We are hopeful that, once confirmatory testing of the new system demonstrates the safely of the water, EPA will inform the community that it is acceptable to use the water for household purposes," Borge said in a statement.
The EPA says the Teflon-coated materials that the Saint-Goblin factory produced in the village for decades may have contaminated Hoosick Falls water supply with perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a toxic chemical that is used in non-stick cookware, stain-resistant carpets, and packaging and has been linked to cancer.