State Press Release: Gov. Shumlin Updates No. Benn Residents on PFOA Contamination Status (3/16/16)

March 16, 2016

Gov. Shumlin Updates North Bennington Residents on PFOA Contamination Affecting Some Private Wells

BENNINGTON – Gov. Peter Shumlin this evening met with North Bennington-area residents concerned about the contamination of a number of private wells by a potentially harmful chemical known as PFOA. The public water source has been tested multiple times in the last month and is not impacted.

At a community meeting at Bennington College, Gov. Shumlin and his team of environmental and health officials shared the results that have come back from the initial testing of roughly 190 private wells in a 1.5 mile radius around the former Chemfab plant. Of the 134 results received thus far:

  • 94 private wells showed PFOA levels above the Health Department’s acceptable level of 20 parts per trillion (ppt). Those results ranged from 32ppt to 2,730ppt.
  • 7 samples had detections below 20ppt.
  • 32 samples did not detect PFOA.

The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has mapped the results and determined that additional testing should be conducted in three areas outside of the initial 1.5 mile radius, representing up to 100 additional wells. Residents in those areas will be notified, water samples will be collected, and residents will be provided bottled water while test results are pending. Results from these additional test are expected in about two weeks.

“It is good news that we have been able to identify a number of areas where we feel confident the contamination has not spread,” Gov. Shumlin said. “We’re obviously concerned about a few areas where we believe the contamination might extend beyond the original 1.5 mile radius. We’ll immediately notify residents, get them on bottled water, and conduct tests. We are working out of an abundance of caution when it comes to identifying additional wells to test.”

The Governor also highlighted that soil sampling began today around the former Chemfab facility and will include samples at impacted residences. The sampling plan will include more than 100 samples at over 25 locations. Results will be available in the coming weeks.

At the meeting, DEC, the Department of Health, and Agency of Agriculture also provided an update to residents on the potential impacts of PFOA on agricultural products. Through the soil sampling that began today, the nature and extent of the contamination will be determined before taking the step to test local agricultural products. This approach allows the State to identify the impacted areas and provide assistance to residents within those areas. Health officials noted that the immediate concern is determining those with impacted drinking water, as that is the most likely source of long-term exposure to PFOA. A factsheet provided to residents is attached.

DEC continues to go door to door to explain the results, answer questions, and coordinate installation of water treatment systems for residents whose wells have tested positive for PFOA contamination. The Health Department is also reaching out by phone to residents who have just received test results that show their well is contaminated with PFOA.

Bottled water remains available at the North Bennington Village Variety Store, located at 9 Route 67 West, and is being delivered to impacted homes.  Two water tanks from which residents can draw water are located in the parking lot across from the former Chemfab plant located at the intersection of Water Street and Route 67a.

An information center has been set up at the Vermont Department of Health offices located at 324 Main Street and will be open from 8am-6pm Monday-Friday. Officials from DEC and Health will be on hand to answer follow up questions from residents.