“CLARENDON— Water well contamination by the manmade chemicals in the PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) family in Clarendon is far different from that discovered in Bennington in 2012, according to Chuck Schwer, waste management and prevention division director of the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).
He expects to find no contamination, after finding only two damaged wells near Rutland-Southern Vermont Regional Airport, and those only slightly elevated, with one slightly over Vermont’s very strict threshold and the other one below. Water from the two wells that tested positive for PFAS will be improved with the installation of a carbon-based filter system. The system serves eight businesses in the area.
The Clarendon contamination is believed to be from PFAS-containing firefighting foam used on an Aug. 7, 1986, plane crash off the west end of the east-west runway.at the site. Firefighting foam containing the chemicals is also used for occasional training sessions. In contrast, the North Bennington water contamination is believed to have come from chemically treated fabric producer ChemFab in North Bennington.
None of the half-dozen samples from private wells along Route 7B have yielded the contaminants, Schwer told the Rutland Herald. A few private wells west of the business park remain to be tested; the department had announced plans to test them the week of April 9.
Hazardous site manager Michael Nahmias and Schwer promised some 25 Clarendon residents at the April 9 town Select Board meeting that the state plans additional testing in residential neighborhoods close to Route 7B.
Residents seemed unlikely to be satisfied with the state’s intended solution. They questioned whether the state could be sure the PFAS came from the 32-year-old accident and what may be the long-term effect of the site’s drainage into Mill River and adjoining wetlands west of the airport. They wanted to know whether people who work or worked in the business park should have their blood tested for PFOA levels.
Town Select Board chair Michael Klopcin expressed disappointment that the state had not informed the town that contamination was a problem before he read about it in local media.
The state intends to test the affected wells again soon, examining especially whether there is any difference in the contamination level. Schwer said the state is already engaged in tracking the foam’s use to see its effect, noting that Bethel, Rochester, and Chester sites that used the foam have shown no contamination, but that PFAS contamination was found at the Vermont Air National Guard site in Burlington and the Vermont firefighters’ training area in Pittsford.”
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