MONTPELIER – Gov. Peter Shumlin today provided an update on the State’s response to the detection of the chemical PFOA in southern Vermont and provided information on additional testing that will be conducted around the state. These additional tests are not a result of specific concerns for drinking water safety. Rather, they are being conducted at sites where the State believes PFOA may have been used in certain manufacturing processes.
PFOA, a possible carcinogen, was used in the making of Teflon, wire coatings, and non-stick fabrics and surfaces and has been phased out of production. Because the chemical was unregulated by the federal government, there are no State records confirming its use in various industries.
Despite this, State officials have been working in recent weeks to determine where the chemical may have been used in the past, and have identified the wire coating industry, semi-conductor industry, and locations where fire-fighting foam was used repeatedly as places that should be tested for elevated levels of PFOA.
The State will ensure testing in the vicinity of 11 sites around the state, including IBM (Essex), Phoenix Wire (South Hero), Champlain Cable (Colchester), Harbour Industries and unaffiliated former Harbour Industries sites (Shelburne, Colchester), SuperTemp (South Burlington, Winooski), Belden Wire & Cable (Essex, Williston), Pittsford Fire Academy, and National Guard Air Force Base.
Samples will be taken at or near the facilities to determine if further tests are necessary. Sampling will begin next week and will continue for three to four weeks in different locations.
The detection of PFOA in drinking water sources is a national issue. Regionally, both New York and New Hampshire have detected PFOA in municipal drinking sources. Vermont is being proactive in determining where else PFOA may have been used. Given that Vermont does not have a long history of heavy manufacturing and the State’s environmental standards are some of the strictest in the nation, it is not believed there is widespread contamination around the state.
In fact since 2013, 13 municipal drinking water systems around the state, including some of the largest municipal systems, have been tested. In none of those tests was PFOA detected. Sources tested include: Bennington, Barre City, Brattleboro, Burlington, Jay Peak Basin Complex, Lyndonville, Rutland City, Shaftsbury/North Bennington, South Burlington, Winhall Stratton Fire District 1, Arlington, Pittsford, and Saint Johnsbury.