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Response to PFOA victims still lacking

Response to PFOA victims still lacking

Meeting with governor's aide inadequate; legislative hearings needed

Dear Cuomo,

My name is Hailey Bussey. I am 10. My PFOA level is 51.5. My dad is 231. My mom, 148. My sister, 46. My animals are scared of their level, too.

I want you to know something. I feel you have left us to die like sick kittens without their mother. The water that is in our soil and in our water is going to make us ill. And if it spreads, it will cover most of New York. I know I may be a small speck in the world, but I want this to change.

My mom came to Hoosick Falls for a good reason, but now she knows that the whole time she was trying to raise us, we were being poisoned. She feels it's her fault. It's not her fault. You are the person to deal with this. You are trying to hide and run away from the problem. But it won't do no good.

My name is Hailey Bussey. I want to say if we die of this or if the young ones deal with future disability, you will come down with us with guilt and dishonor.

If we burn, you burn with us, which is from Katniss, Mockingjay Part I. Thank you.

~ Letter from Hoosick Falls resident Hailey Bussey to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, June 15, 2016.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo was too busy to meet with Hailey Bussey in person on Wednesday.

He was too busy meeting behind closed doors negotiating bills with legislative leaders anxious to go home for the summer, bills that should have been negotiated months ago.

So the governor sent an aide to talk with her, her family and about two dozen other Hoosick Falls residents who had gathered outside his office Wednesday, upset about the state's inadequate handling of PFOA contamination in their community, and demanding answers.

The impromptu meeting, obviously granted to placate the citizens’ growing angst in the hallway outside his office, was initially intended to be held in secret. But a reporter, Karen DeWitt of National Public Radio, snuck into the meeting and then refused to leave.

So we know what happened, even though the governor didn’t want us to know.

In the hour or so that they met with the governor's surrogate, the residents got a few answers to their questions about the contamination, but no resolution to their problems.

They got a pledge from the governor's office to be more directly involved in addressing their concerns, but they didn't get a promise for the legislative hearings they demanded and deserve.

No need for embarrassing public hearings. No need for the citizens to hear directly from the officials involved in the decision-making. No need for legislators and the citizens to demand answers from government officials about why the state’s response to the contamination took so long. No answers as to who was responsible. No answers as to how a similar situation would be handled differently in the future.

If you think the state's slow and potentially deadly response to the Hoosick Falls PFOA contamination is strictly a Hoosick Falls problem, you're wrong. This could happen in your community. It might already be happening.

And this is how the governor and legislative leaders deal with the situation. By sending an aide to try to placate the victims. By trying, as Hailey said, to hide and run away from the problem.

Is that how you would want this situation handled if it happened in your community?

Didn't think so. No one would.

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