NEWBURGH, N.Y. — The process of getting rid of the toxic chemical blamed for contaminating Newburgh’s water supply has taken a step forward as Department of Defense officials have begun taking water samples in and around Stewart Air National Guard Base.

Testing last year by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation showed the contamination likely came from firefighting foams used at the air base. Contamination in a pond on base was found to be almost 85 times the EPA health advisory limit. The air base has been declared a Superfund site.

High levels of PFOS also were found in Washington Lake, Newburgh’s main source for drinking water.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer calls the testing a big step forward for area residents.