MONTPELIER — Prompted by its discovery in North Bennington, state environmental officials will test about a dozen sites around the state for the potentially harmful chemical PFOA.
"These additional tests are not a result of specific concerns for drinking water safety," an update from Gov. Peter Shumlin's office stated Wednesday. "Rather, they are being conducted at sites where the State believes PFOA may have been used in certain manufacturing processes."
The Department of Environmental Conservation has said it would try to determine where PFOA, which was used when making Teflon, may have been used. Officials say they have identified wire coating and semi-conductor factories, and locations where fire-fighting foam was used repeatedly, as places that should be tested.
Those locations include: IBM in Essex, Phoenix Wire in South Hero, Champlain Cable in Colchester, Harbour Industries and unaffiliated former Harbour Industries sites in Shelburne and Colchester, SuperTemp in South Burlington and Winooski, Belden Wire & Cable in Essex and Williston, the Pittsford Fire Academy, and the National Guard Air Force Base in South Burlington.
Perfluorooctanoic acid, sometimes called C8 but often shortened to PFOA, was found in numerous private wells near North Bennington. Studies have linked PFOA to cancer and diseases of the kidney and thyroid, among other health problems. The state limit for PFOA in drinking water is 20 parts per trillion (ppt).
State officials will take water samples at or near the newly identified facilities to determine if more tests are necessary. Sampling will begin next week and will continue for three to four weeks.
"Given that Vermont does not have a long history of heavy manufacturing and the state's environmental standards are some of the strictest in the nation, it is not believed there is widespread contamination around the state," the governor's update stated.
PFOA has also been found in communities in Rensselaer County, N.Y. and Merrimack, N.H.
Contact Edward Damon at 413-770-6979