Letter alleges feds may have known about Stewart contamination since '90s

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NEWBURGH -

A new letter shows that the federal government may have known about possible radioactive contamination from Stewart Air Base contaminating Newburgh's water since the 1990s.

The 1992 letter is from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to federal Air Force officials asking them to investigate a possible radioactive contamination at Stewart Air Base, just feet away from the city's water supply at Washington Lake.

The letter contends that drums of chemicals may have been buried underground for years at Stewart and that someone reportedly saw workers in hazmat suits removing the drums from the ground.

The problem is that the city's drinking reservoir, Washington Lake, is less than a mile away.

Two years ago, the city discovered the reservoir was contaminated with cancer-causing chemicals from firefighting foam used at Stewart years ago.

This prompted officials to build a multimillion-dollar filtration water system.

City Manager Michael Ciaravino told the Mid-Hudson News that with this latest allegation of possible nuclear contamination, he doesn't have confidence the filtration system will be able to do anything.

He says he also wants answers from military officials who will be in Newburgh Thursday for a forum on the contaminated reservoir.

No one knows why or how the letter was made public, but the timing comes one day before a forum with high-ranking federal officials.

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