FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 18, 2016
Gov. Shumlin Announces Engineering Study and PFOA Soil Sample Results
MONTPELIER – Gov. Peter Shumlin announced today that Saint-Gobain has agreed to cover costs for two engineering studies in Bennington and North Bennington. The engineering studies will determine the feasibility and costs of expanding municipal water supply infrastructure to service residences impacted by PFOA in the two towns. Additionally, the Governor announced that the preliminary soil testing results from around the former Chemfab facility in North Bennington show PFOA levels that do not pose significant risk of PFOA uptake into plants and vegetables from garden soils. (Note: Both the Bennington and North Bennington municipal water systems have recently been tested and show ‘non-detectable’ levels of PFOA)
Saint-Gobain—owner of the former Chemfab facility in North Bennington—is paying for drinking water sampling of more than 300 private wells in the areas of concern in Bennington and North Bennington. Results have been received for 232 total water supplies in North Bennington alone, with 126 containing PFOA above the 20ppt health advisory limit. An additional 64 samples were collected last week from expanded areas of concern near Old Bennington and south of the old Bennington Landfill. Sample collection will continue this week.
As a short-term solution, the company also agreed to pay for bottled water supplies and installation of point-of-entry treatment systems for homes with wells containing PFOA above the 20ppt. To date, more than 100 point-of-entry treatment systems have been installed by Saint-Gobain’s contractor.
Saint-Gobain’s commitment to the engineering studies in the two town centers is a first step towards a long-term solution for impacted residents in the area. The Town of Bennington and the Village of North Bennington have individually secured proposals from two separate engineering firms amounting to approximately $15,000 each. Saint-Gobain has agreed to reimburse the costs incurred by the two village centers.
Additionally, more than 100 soil samples were collected from locations surrounding the former Chemfab facility in North Bennington to determine if soil contamination exists around the former plant. Preliminary results show PFOA levels ranging from non-detect to 45 parts per billion in the tested soils, with the majority of samples containing less than 10 parts per billion. The Vermont Department of Health soil screening level is 300 parts per billion.
Based upon the preliminary soil results showing very low concentrations of PFOA in soils, the Agency of Agriculture does not calculate a significant risk of PFOA uptake into plants and vegetables from garden soils. Gardeners are encouraged to proceed with their plantings and follow two recommendations: 1) Use water containing less than 20 ppt of PFOA in your garden and 2) Use clean compost to amend garden soils.
A community meeting for citizens of Bennington and North Bennington will be held tonight at 6:00pm in the Greenwall Auditorium at Bennington College’s Visual and Performing Arts Center. Officials from the Department of Environmental Conservation and Department of Health will discuss recent results.
For general questions about PFOA, call 2-1-1 for more info. For health concern questions, call the Vermont Department of Health at 1-800-439-8550.