On Monday, Feb. 29, Gov. Peter Shumlin provided an update on the situation in North Bennington after last week when five private wells in North Bennington showed varying levels of a potentially harmful chemical called PFOA. Test results received Thursday, Feb. 25, indicated that while there is no contamination of the public water source.
The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) plans to test an additional 80 to 100 private wells located in a 1.5 mile radius surrounding the former Chem Fab plant in North Bennington. Officials are still working to determine the exact cause of the contamination, but concerns in North Bennington were sparked by reports of contamination caused by a similar plant in Hoosick Falls, N.Y.
Vermont DEC officials will travel door to door to collect testing samples in the coming days, the Shumlin administration reported Monday. The test to determine PFOA levels takes approximately two weeks.
Residents with wells being tested should not drink the water while results are pending. Bottled water will be provided and a delivery schedule will be worked out in the coming days. In the meantime, residents can pick up bottled water at the Village Variety Store located at 9 Route 67 West in North Bennington. In addition, starting Monday afternoon two water tanks were provided from which residents can draw water on the corner of Scarey Lane and Rt 67 and McCaters Park at the Henry Bridge.
Additionally, the Health Department will be arranging blood tests for PFOA for people who have contaminated wells, but stressed that the number one priority is to stop the exposure and encourages those that might be affected to consult with their health care providers.
“If your well is contaminated, do not use the water for drinking, preparing food, cooking, or brushing teeth,” said Health Commissioner Harry Chen, M.D. “We recommend that you talk with your health care provider to consider having the routine blood tests for health conditions that may be treatable now.”
The Health Department has alerted and provided guidance to health care providers in the Bennington and Rutland area.