Shumlin to tour homes, host forum on water issue Tuesday


NORTH BENNINGTON >> Gov. Peter Shumlin will visit the village on Tuesday to meet with residents and officials over the water contamination issue.

Shumlin will attend a community meeting at Bennington College, according to the governor's schedule. He also is expected to tour affected homes as well as the Water Street property believed to be the source of the man-made chemical found in the water of private wells.

The meeting is slated for 10:30 a.m. at Bennington College's Center for the Advancement of Public Action (CAPA) building's Symposium Room.

Residents requested a community meeting after hearing Shumlin would be in town, a spokesperson from the governor's office said. Shumlin's visit was first announced Friday.

The meeting will be "an opportunity for us to give an update on the response and for residents to ask any questions they might have," Spokesperson Scott Coriell told the Banner on Monday.

It was the discovery of PFOA that led some Rensselaer County, N.Y., residents to be told not to drink or cook with their water. PFOA was found in private wells in the towns of Hoosick and Petersburgh. In Hoosick Falls, a village where some 4,900 public water users are affected, the state declared two manufacturing facilities owned by the Saint-Gobain Corporation as Superfund sites. The state has also identified the French multinational company, along with Honeywell International, as two parties "potentially responsible" for the contamination.

Tuesday's stop in town will mark the first time Shumlin will personally visit the area since perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a chemical that was formerly used to make Teflon and has been linked to cause cancer, was found in water samples taken in the village late last month.

Shumlin will tour 1030 Water St., a former manufacturing facility operated by ChemFab and later Saint-Gobain for over 30 years before closing in 2002. He's also scheduled to visit residences impacted by the contamination as well as the bottled water distribution stations.

It's unknown when the PFOA was released. The EPA and major users agreed in 2006 to phase out PFOA use by 2015.

DEC Commissioner Alyssa Schuren told residents at a packed forum at the North Bennington firehouse on Feb. 25 that the state must determine the party responsible for the contamination. The state uses the Superfund laws to make a responsible party reimburse the government for any costs, including bottled water and fees, and pay for remediation.

Environmental and health officials are only warning people who get water from private wells about contamination. Neither the village or town's public water systems were found to contain PFOA.

Contact Edward Damon at 413-770-6979


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