Drinking water in Hempstead contains 'unacceptable levels' of toxins that could cause cancer

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Wednesday, May 22, 2024
Toxins found in Hempstead drinking water
Long Island officials are sounding the alarm. Chantee Lans reports.

HEMPSTEAD, Long Island (WABC) -- Officials on Long Island are sounding the alarm about unhealthy water quality and say the water system in Hempstead is more than a century old.

Now scientists have found unacceptable levels of toxins that could cause cancer in all nine wells in the village.

All of the wells were found to have levels of 1,4-dioxane, a likely carcinogen that could cause liver and kidney cancer.

"Although there are still ongoing studies on the effect of this on human beings, most of the tests have been done on lab animals," said Hempstead Mayor Wayland Hobbs. "But here in the Village of Hempstead, we don't want to wait to find out what the results are that affect our residents, so that's why we are acting now to make sure that we remove the high levels of dioxin in our water."

Now officials are calling for emergency assistance from the federal government to construct a new, state-of-the-art water system that will remove the toxins and PFAS, commonly known as forever chemicals.

A new facility would cost $55 million, and Hobbs announced Wednesday that the Village Board voted unanimously to make a measure for the Village to be able to bond for $50 million.

That means they essentially voted to borrow $50 million needed so they can start the project.

Officials hope the federal government will still fund the Village, so the borrowed money would not fall on taxpayers.

"If we have to pay it back, just like I'm telling you, it's enough with us paying property taxes, school taxes," said resident Bernice Hudson.

The Village hopes to start the plan to build a new water treatment plant by this fall.

The project could take several years to complete.

The New York State Department of Health released the following statement:

"The delivered water in the Village of Hempstead does not pose a significant health risk and continues to be acceptable for all uses, as MCLS are set well below levels known to cause health effects. While the water supply has had samples that tested higher than the maximum contaminant level (MCL), they have taken interim steps to minimize 1,4-dioxane in delivered water."

ALSO READ | EPA announces national standard to limit PFAS in drinking water

The agency says it will reduce exposure for 100 million people and prevent thousands of illnesses, including cancer.


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