The state will start preliminary testing for perfluorooctanoic acid, commonly known as PFOA, in 11 locations around the state, the Shumlin administration announced today.
Testing will start around industrial sites where PFOA may have been used in the production of Teflon, wire coatings and fire-fighting foam. Testing sites in Chittenden County include areas around GlobalFoundries, formerly IBM, in Essex, Phoenix Wire in South Hero, Champlain Cable in Colchester, Harbor Industries in Shelburne and Colchester, SuperTemp in South Burlington and Winooski, Belden Wire & Cable in Essex and Williston, Pittsford Fire Academy, and the National Guard Air Force Base, according to the state.
Samples taken over the next three to four weeks will determine if further testing is necessary, said Scott Coriell, spokesman for Gov. Peter Shumlin.
PFOA is a possible carcinogen, and has been found in private wells in North Bennington and in the public water supply in Pownal. The compound has also been found in New York and New Hampshire.
Burlington and South Burlington’s municipal water supplies were tested for PFOA between 2013 and 2015 as part of routine monitoring. PFOA was not found in either city’s supply.
Ellen Parr Doering, the deputy division director of groundwater and drinking water at the Department of Environmental Conservation, said the testing will primarily focus on private wells.
From what the DEC has seen of PFOA so far, private wells are the area of most concern, but Doering said some sampling of public water supplies will take place as well, just to be on the safe side.
“We have no reason to believe there are any problems at these sites,” Coriell said in a text message to the Burlington Free Press. “But they are sites where PFOA may have been used in certain manufacturing processes. We’re testing out of an abundance of caution.”