Via Bobby Cuza:

State health officials do not seem especially eager to field questions about the ongoing water contamination crisis in Hoosick Falls and other upstate towns.

State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker was in Manhattan this morning, deputized by Governor Cuomo to announce a new, $1.5 billion investment in New York’s health care system, going toward 162 different projects statewide. The dollars will help fund infrastructure improvements with a goal, in the long run, of improving health outcomes for New Yorkers and reducing hospital admissions and emergency-room visits in the process.

However, the roughly 14-minute announcement – which also featured remarks by Kenneth Raske, President of the Greater New York Hospital Association, and Rick Cook, COO of the Healthcare Association of New York State – came to a somewhat abrupt close without any attempt to entertain questions from the press.

Afterwards, as Zucker left through a side door, he was pursued by reporters and stopped to comment, briefly.

Asked by the Wall Street Journal’s Mike Vilensky if anyone should be fired over the Hoosick Falls crisis, Zucker said, “Not at all.”

“We’re moving forward. We’re doing everything we need to do on this issue. We have bio-monitoring of people. We have looked at wells, we have sampled the wells. We have been out there tackling all different issues. We put filters on. There’s a crop and filter system that’s been put in, it’s being flushed as we speak today. And we’re moving forward.”

As to criticism these remediation measures should have been done sooner, he said, “All this stuff is moving forward. Remember, this was an unregulated substance before. And the EPA kept changing their numbers on us.”

That comment was a reference to the fact that perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA – the hazardous chemical in question – was not on the Environmental Protection Agency’s list of regulated chemicals when the issue first came to the state’s attention. And that the EPA at one point lowered its guidance for acceptable PFOA levels from 400 parts per trillion to 100 parts per trillion.

The comments also echoed those made by Zucker and other state officials at a news conference in Hoosick Falls last Friday.