PFOA found in more North Bennington wells, community meeting slated for Wednesday

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NORTH BENNINGTON>> Results from a second round of water testing found about 50 wells have levels of a potentially harmful chemical above what the state says is acceptable, according to the office of Gov. Peter Shumlin.

The results will be the subject of a community meeting Wednesday, March 16 at 6 p.m. in the Tishman Lecture Hall at Bennington College.

Environmental and health officials will be on hand to review the test results and to answer residents' questions.

A total of about 185 private wells within 1.5 miles of the former ChemFab facility in North Bennington have been tested for PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid), a man-made chemical formerly used to make Teflon.

Of the 67 results returned to the state late Monday, 52 private wells had PFOA levels above the state's acceptable amount of 20 parts per trillion (ppt). Results in this round of testing ranged from 38 ppt to 2,730 ppt, according to an official update from the office of Gov. Peter Shumlin.

Three of the samples had levels below 20 ppt. In 12 of the samples, PFOA was not detected.

Most of the results are from samples collected outside of the immediate area of the former ChemFab facility.

Staff with the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) began going door-to-door on Saturday to notify residents of test results.

"Additional testing of the North Bennington public water system, including samples from the elementary school, have confirmed no PFOA contamination," a statement from Shumlin's office said.

The feds classify PFOA as an "emerging contaminant" and don't require municipalities or well owners to test for it. The EPA is studying the chemical and currently only has an "advisory level" for short-term exposure of 400 ppt. But Hoosick, N.Y. well owners are being told to avoid drinking and cooking with their water if tests show levels of 100 ppt or above.

The state began testing private wells after receiving a tip from a citizen. Initial testing taken last month found the chemical, which has been linked to cause kidney and thyroid cancers as well as other diseases, was in a handful of private wells.

The first batch of results from well testing was returned late last week. Of those 34 results, 29 had levels between 38 and 2,270 ppt.

Bottled water is being made available to residents and is being delivered to impacted homes.

Environmental officials are expected to start collecting 100 soil samples from 25 locations at the former ChemFab site on Wednesday. Results are expected in two weeks.

Contact Edward Damon at 413-770-6979


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