- Associated Press - Friday, March 25, 2016

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - Officials are close to determining how many private wells in the North Bennington area have been contaminated with a potentially cancer-causing chemical, a top state official said Friday. They’re also beginning to look at whether other areas across the state may be contaminated.

So far the chemical, known as PFOA, has been confined to samples taken in three areas of Bennington County. But the state is working with other industrial facilities that may be have used the chemical and will conduct additional tests as warranted, said Alyssa Schuren, the commissioner of the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation.

“We’ve seen it in Pownal, we’ve seen it in Bennington, we’ve seen it in North Bennington,” Schuren said. “There may also be other pockets.”

Several years ago the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency tested some public water systems in Vermont for PFOA and did not detect the suspected cancer-causing chemical. PFOA, which is now being phased out in the U.S., was used for decades in the manufacture of common products, including Teflon pans, carpets and the linings of pizza boxes and microwave popcorn bags.

“We have not identified other areas that we are definitely going to do testing on at this time, but we are considering that and we are in conversations with different facilities now about their processes,” she said. “We want to act strategically.”

More information on that plan should be available in the next week or so, she said.

Vermont officials began testing private wells in the North Bennington area after the chemical was found in the water supply in the nearby town of Hoosick Falls, New York.

Following news reports of potential PFOA contamination there, Vermont tested public and private wells in North Bennington that surround a now-closed plant that used to use the chemical. Public water supplies in North Bennington and Bennington weren’t affected, but some private wells in the area were shown to have low levels of the chemical.

Since then, elevated - but still low - levels have been found in about 100 samples. The Pownal samples, released Thursday, marked the first time PFOA was found in a public drinking water system in Vermont.

Drinking water has been provided to people living in affected homes, and filter systems have been installed in some homes while officials search for a long-term solution.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide