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PFOA Found Near Three Southern Vermont Landfills

The Department of Environmental Conservation has uncovered new sources of PFOA and PFOS, two hazardous chemicals that were used in manufacturing.

PFOA is a suspected carcinogen and it's been discovered in more than 270 private wells in Bennington and in a municipal water supply in Pownal.

DEC Commissioner Alyssa Schuren says that as the state has been trying to address the polluted water in those two towns, it's moved beyond to begin testing landfills that may have accepted waste from the former Chemfab plant in North Bennington, which is the suspected source of the contamination.

"What we're doing right now is really just a natural evolution of learning how to manage a new chemical," Schuren says. "Once we get all the results back we'll be able to assess that and determine how we should be managing landfills statewide."

So far 10 landfills have been tested in Bennington and Windham counties.

The chemicals have already been found near landfills in Shaftsbury and Bennington, and in the past month three more sites have tested above the state limit.

Groundwater near the Burgess Brothers Landfill in Benington had PFOA and PFOS at more than 1,000 parts per trillion.

Vermont has set its safe water limit at 20 parts per trillion.

Schuren says the chemicals have also been found near the Putney Paper Landfill and near the Halifax municipal landfill, though those levels are only slightly above the state limit.

And so far the chemicals haven't been detected beyond the landfills.

"We have not found any residential wells that have been impacted around these landfills," Schuren says. "We are testing residential wells as these results come back."

Landfills routinely check their groundwater for contamination of a variety of chemicals and Schuren says the southern Vermont landfills are now checking for the PFOA and PFOS.

She said landfills in Dover, Sunderland, and Pownal have been tested, and do not show levels above the state limit.

Results from the Windham Solid Waste District in Brattleboro are still pending.

Howard Weiss-Tisman is Vermont Public’s southern Vermont reporter, but sometimes the story takes him to other parts of the state.
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