Read the full article by Jim Sabataso (Rutland Herald)

“LEICESTER — A routine test of drinking water at Leicester Central School (LCS) revealed PFAS levels of more than three times the acceptable limit set by the state.

PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, refers to a group of synthetic chemicals used in industrial processes. In recent years, high PFAS concentrations have been found in North Bennington and Clarendon.

Last year, the state passed Act 21, which requires the testing of all public and non-community water systems that serve more that 25 people by the end of the year.

According the Ben Montross, acting assistant division director for the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation’s Drinking Water & Groundwater Protection Division, there are nearly 4,000 PFAS chemicals used in manufacturing; not all of them can be analyzed or have traceable health effects. Montross said the state currently regulates five of them.

Per Act 21, the maximum contaminant level (MCL) for PFAS chemicals is 20 parts per trillion. When LCS was tested last year, it was below the threshold with 5 parts per trillion. A second sample taken at the school on Aug. 5 revealed a contamination level of 76.

Built in 1954, the K-6 school of about 75 students serving the towns of Leicester, Sudbury and Whiting, is part of the Rutland Northeast Supervisory Union.

Thomas Fleury, LCS principal, said families were alerted of the situation via email on Aug. 25. He said a followup email is scheduled to go out soon. Notices are also posted at all school entrances.

‘We’re ready with procedures,’ Fleury said, explaining that all water fountains have been disconnected and bottled water will be supplied.

Montross said the bottled water will be sourced from a safe, compliant location that is free of PFAS.

In addition, the cafeteria kitchen is closed. Fleury said the kitchen was already slated to be closed as part of pandemic reopening plans, which has consolidated meal preparation throughout the supervisory union.

Under RNESU’s reopening plans K-2 students will return to LCS for in-person instruction beginning Sept. 8. Higher grade levels will be start remotely, but may be phased in as the fall progresses. Fleury said about 50 students will attend in person to start.

Stephen Eaton, facilities director for RNESU said that a second sample for a confirmation test was taken Wednesday. The results are expected in about a month…”