Vermont will test Pownal wells for PFOA contamination


POWNAL, VT >> Vermont environmental officials will test private wells within one mile of a Route 346 site for the potentially harmful chemical PFOA, according to an announcement from Gov. Peter Shumlin's office on Friday.

While bottled water and filling stations will be available for Pownal residents, it was unclear on Friday when the state will start well testing. A spokesman for the governor's office said more details will be shared at a community meeting on Monday at 6 p.m. at the Pownal American Legion Post 90, 5970 Route 7.

The state tested water from the Pownal Fire District No. 2 over concerns of past activities at the former Warren Wire factory at 1001 Route 346. Results announced on Thursday showed PFOA levels slightly above what the state deems acceptable.

Those on the municipal water system are being told not to drink or cook with their tap water. Bottled water can be picked up at the Pownal Rescue Squad building at 22 Ladd Brook Road.

Residents can also fill jugs at four filling stations, which were expected to be delivered by Friday afternoon. The locations are:

• Pownal Rescue Squad headquarters, 22 Ladd Brook Road (on the corner of Ladd Brook Road and Route 7)

• Burdick Trailer Park

• Green Mountain Mobile Home Park

• Alta Garden Trailer Park

The Vermont Department of Health set an "advisory level" for PFOA of 20 parts per trillion (ppt), an amount considered safe for infants. Three samples from Pownal had 26 and 27 ppt.

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"Given the low levels of PFOA detected in Pownal, the [DEC] does not believe the contamination is widespread," the announcement from the governor's office stated. "However, as a precaution, DEC has established a one-mile radius around the former Warren Wire plant to test private drinking water wells."

PFOA was found in the village of North Bennington, Vt. last month. The DEC has since tested about 180 private wells wells within 1.5 miles of the former ChemFab factory, the suspected contamination source. The majority of wells in that area had levels of 100 ppt or higher.

PFOA, or perfluorooctanoic acid, was used to make Teflon for decades. Studies have found it causes cancer and other diseases. PFOA was also found in the towns of Hoosick and Petersburgh, N.Y.

About 400 customers are served by the Pownal Fire District No. 2, a municipal water supply in the village of Pownal. The system's pump and wellhead are about 1,000 feet south of the Warren Wire plant.

Mack Molding President Jeff Somple said Thursday the company has used the building since 1988 to assemble finished product and as a warehouse, but "has not engaged in any manufacturing processes at this site that involves the storage or use of PFOA or any other hazardous chemical."

He said the company will pay for bottled water for the next two weeks.

Residents are being told to call 211, or the information line 802-828-1038 weekdays between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. for more information and to ask questions.

An information center is open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the state Department of Health offices, 324 Main St., Bennington.

The state's official web page is:

Contact Edward Damon at 413-770-6979.


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