SHAFTSBURY >> The state has asked the town to test its landfill off of North Road for the potentially harmful chemical PFOA.
PFOA, or perfluorooctanoic acid, has already been found in private wells around North Bennington and near Bennington's former landfill off Houghton Lane.
"The state said they wanted us to test our monitoring wells," Select Board Chairman Tim Scoggins said Monday, "which we already test for a number of things every six months. They wanted us to do a PFOA test out there, so we're talking to KAS (Environmental Science and Engineering, of Williston). They will develop the handling procedure, to make sure everything is done right, then the water will get tested for PFOA, and we'll go from there."
"I think we should have our eyes open on that," he continued, "and realize that when that landfill was in operation, PFOA was in things like Scotchguard, which we were all spraying on our jeans and our couches, and then at some point went in the landfill, so there's a real possibility that PFOA could show up in those test wells."
Scoggins said he had been in contact with state Rep. Alice Miller, D-Bennington-3, and that, depending on the results of the test, Miller is prepared to help the town reach out to the state and determine the next steps.
The chemical, which was used for years when making Teflon and has been linked to cancer and other diseases, turned up in nearby private wells and surface water, as well as municipal water supplies in Pownal and Hoosick Falls, N.Y.. The state Department of Environmental Conservation began testing water for PFOA in February over concerns of past activity at the former ChemFab/Saint-Gobain facility at 1030 Water Street in North Bennington.
Board members on Monday also discussed how the town hit a snag in purchasing a piece of property adjacent to the landfill, which voters approved in March.
"We've run into a title defect," said Scoggins, "which has to do with a name that showed up in the title search, of someone who's deceased. To get that cleared up, we have to go to probate court, so we're looking at however long that takes, I'm guessing a month or two."
The property could house part of the footprint of a new town garage, so, when the board authorized Jason Dolmetsch of MSK Engineering to create a site plan for that project, it was contingent upon successfully closing on the North Road property. With the new information, however, and with the desire to get the ball rolling and get an item on the November ballot, board members revisited that motion.
"I think we ought to go ahead and turn Jason loose working on that site," Scoggins said. "By all accounts from the parties involved, we're still expecting it to go forward. The current owner is still anticipating a move out, the lien-holder's mother is still anxious to sell, so I think, really, it's just a paperwork delay. My confidence is high that the purchase will happen."
The board agreed to amend the motion, and Town Administrator David Kiernan said he would sign the contract and let Dolmetsch know.
The Shaftsbury Select Board meets the first and third Monday of every month at 6:30 p.m. at Cole Hall on Buck Hill Road. Full recordings of the meetings are available on Catamount Access Television, and on the station's YouTube page.
Derek Carson can be reached for comment at 802-447-7567, ext. 122.