NORTH BENNINGTON — The state has again widened its testing area after tests found the potentially harmful chemical PFOA in more private wells.
State environmental officials and private subcontractors will take water samples from an additional 150 private wells, according to a community update released Thursday by Gov. Peter Shumlin’s office.
Samples will be taken from the area between the William H. Morse State Airport and the village of Old Bennington in addition to around the former Bennington Landfill, a Superfund site off of Houghton Lane.
The state’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will also take samples from outside the testing area. Those “spot checks” will be done near Corey Lane, Whipstock Road, Airport Road, along Route 7A and in the area of Cold Spring Road near Shaftsbury.
Another community meeting will be held on Monday, April 18 at 6 p.m. in Bennington College’s Greenwall Auditorium.
The DEC says it will contact residents in the expanded testing area. Residents can get more information, including maps, fact-sheets and other data, or sign up for well testing, at the state’s wesbite for PFOA: www.anr.state.vt.us/dec/PFOA.htm.
Residents with questions are also being directed to call the state’s 2-1-1 information line.
Bottled water is still available at the North Bennington Variety Store at 49 Route 67 West. Residents in the newly identified testing area can pick up bottled water while test results are pending.
Since February, the state has collected water samples from 232 private wells to test for PFOA, a man-made chemical used for decades to make the non-stick coating Teflon that studies have linked with cancer and other diseases. Of 232 wells, 126 had PFOA levels above the state’s “advisory level” of 20 parts per trillion (ppt).
Officials suspect the contamination source is the former Chem-Fab plant, which operated on Water Street in North Bennington for 30 years. The Saint-Gobain Corporation owned at the time it closed in 2002 and has already committed to installing water filters on every affected home. The state has not officially identified Saint-Gobain as the contamination source and officials are calling for a full investigation of the contamination. Talks with the French multinational company are ongoing — Shumlin and DEC Commissioner Alyssa Schuren have requested the company reimburse the state for bottled water and cleanup costs and pay to extend municipal water lines to any homes with contaminated private wells, since both the Bennington and North Bennington municipal water systems are not contaminated.
Of the 50 wells tested last week, 19 wells had PFOA levels ranging from 22 ppt to 471 ppt. PFOA was not detected in 22 samples. In nine samples, PFOA was detected below 20 ppt.
Five monitoring wells at the Bennington Landfill, a Superfund cleanup site, showed levels between 18 ppt and 140 ppt.