PFOA Contamination Response: Community Updates
June 2017
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What's Happening
The Agency of Natural Resources (Agency) and Attorney General's Office (AGO) negotiating team are working daily to reach a settlement agreement that will expedite the long-term solution to the PFOA contamination in Bennington.  The Agency remains hopeful that we will reach a settlement agreement with Saint-Gobain this summer.  Contingent on continued cooperation from Saint-Gobain, our goal is to begin construction on municipal water line extensions in 2017.  The work necessary to begin municipal water line construction and the site investigation of the area roughly east of the railroad tracks are proceeding on a parallel track with the negotiations.  If, at any time, a settlement agreement is no longer in the best interests of the community, the Agency will change its approach.    

Site Investigation Work to Commence in Mid-June

In May of 2017, Saint-Gobain's environmental contractor submitted a site investigation workplan to perform additional investigation and close data gaps to the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (VTDEC).  This work will help us further understand how perflourochemicals (PFC) were introduced into the environment and how they are moving through soil and groundwater.  In addition, this work will supplement existing site data and help us refine the Conceptual Site Model (CSM) for the area by further characterizing the distribution of PFCs, including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), in soil and groundwater  across the study area. Investigations undertaken by Saint-Gobain, VTDEC, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to date have provided PFC concentration data on the following:
  • Groundwater at the former Chemfab facility on Water Street, at Bennington Landfill, and at water wells throughout the study area;
  • Sewage sludge from the Bennington wastewater treatment plant;
  • Surface water and sediment; and
  • Surficial and shallow subsurface soils at the former Chemfab facility on Water Street and nearby areas.
The VTDEC provided comments on the workplan on May 30, 2017, which Saint-Gobain must address before beginning site investigation activities.  Overall, the VTDEC approved the general approach to the site investigation.  The work plan will be posted on our website once the workplan is finalized.  The site investigation activities will take place over the summer and early fall.  

Status of Engineering Design for Municipal Water Line Extension in Western Bennington and North Bennington
Village of North Bennington
  • The public water supply construction permit for planned water distribution improvements to the Village of North Bennington's Water System has been issued.       The construction permit was issued by the Drinking Water and Groundwater Protection Division (DWGWPD) and approves the final design plans and technical specifications as provided by Otter Creek Engineering. Issuance of this permit represents a key milestone for this project. 
  • Permit applications for other required environmental permits (stream alteration, erosion prevention, wetlands) have been submitted or are expected to be submitted to the Department of Environmental Conservation within the week. 
  • The archeological phase 1 study is complete and one site has been identified with three activity areas. The State Historic Preservation Office and the Department of Environmental Conservation have worked with the consulting engineer to minimize impacts by adjusting the pipe alignment in the final design. The current estimate for post construction archeological studies is estimated to be $18,000.
Western Bennington
  • The final design engineering plans are approximately 60% complete. The DWGWPD anticipates a permitting set of final design plans to be submitted with an application by Friday, June 9, 2017. 
  • The applications for the erosion prevention permit are anticipated to be submitted by Friday, June 16, 2017. 
  • The VTRANS 1111 permit and traffic control plan is anticipated for the third week in June. 
  • The project will require up to 40 permanent easements. Landowner meetings are being scheduled for the next two week period. 
  • The engineering consultant will need to inspect approximately 150 dwellings owned by 136 separate landowners for purposes of connecting these homes and businesses to the public water system.       All 136 owners have been contacted by the engineering firm. Twenty-one of these did not have phone numbers in service and follow-up letters have been mailed. Messages were left for twenty-eight of the landowners and the remainder have either been inspected or have been scheduled for inspection. 
  • The archeological phase 1 study has completed and three sensitive areas along Silk Road have been identified. The State Historic Preservation Office and the Department of Environmental Conservation have worked with the consulting engineer to minimize impacts by adjusting the pipe alignment in the final design. The current estimate for post construction archeological studies is estimated to be $38,000.

Pilot Study for Well Replacement
The VTDEC received the May 2017 workplan from Barr Engineering, an environmental contractor working for Saint-Gobain, for a pilot study for the replacement of domestic water wells in the Bennington/North Bennington area where it may not be technically feasible to connect to municipal water lines  The installation of a replacement well is one of the three long-term drinking water options the Agency is considering. Well replacement using appropriate well construction methods may be a permanent remedy to reduce PFOA concentrations in certain water wells, particularly in locations where nearby wells are not impacted by PFOA. The proposed plan is to install five replacement wells for further evaluation and to provide information to assess the viability of well replacement as a means to reduce PFOA concentrations at other affected domestic water wells.
The VTDEC responded to this report in a Comment Memo dated May 30, 2017.  The VTDEC expects to receive a revised plan shortly.  The plan will be posted on the website once it is finalized. 

Third Round of Re-Sampling of Water Supplies with Less than 20ppt PFOA
The third round of re-sampling of water supply wells with less than 20 ppt PFOA in past sampling events is almost complete.  The VTDEC had its contractor, Weston and Sampson, collect samples from homes on the east side Bennington in the Area of Interest (AOI).  This area is roughly the area east of the railroad tracks that split Bennington in two on the north side of Main Street.  These results have been sent to these home owners and approximately a dozen homes (out of about 150) that were re-sampled now have PFOA concentrations at or above 20 ppt PFOA tested above 20 ppt.   Saint-Gobain has agreed to install treatment systems on each of these homes. 
Saint-Gobain had its contractor, CT Male, collect samples from homes on the west side of Bennington in the AOI.  This is the area that Saint-Gobain agreed to perform the Spring re-sampling effort.  Those residents that had their re-sampling tested at or above 20 ppt for PFOA have been notified.  Once VTDEC receives the lab results from CT Male, they will be sent to the homeowners.  Several homes tested above 20 ppt on the west side of the AOI and Saint-Gobain has agreed to install treatment systems on these homes.  The VTDEC is committed to continuing with semi-annual sampling of all water supplies in the AOI for the near future until trends of contaminant levels can be understood.  The next round of sampling is planned for this fall.

POET Monitoring
Analytical sampling to confirm that the Point-of-Entry-Treatment (POET) are adequately treating the PFOA in groundwater is ongoing.  Maintenance of the POETS also continues in accordance with the approved Operation and Maintenance manual for the POET, which can be found at the following link.
All POET systems must be tested at least annually.  POET systems that have a PFOA concentration before entering the treatment greater than 200 ppt are being sampled more frequently. CT Male, representing Saint-Gobain, or Lincoln Applied Geology, representing the VTDEC, will continue to contact residents over the next several months to schedule a POET sampling event.  The VTDEC will be forwarding the results of these sampling efforts as they become available.

Pownal Update
Sampling continues in Pownal at the former General Cable facility to identify the extent of contamination in groundwater, soil and surface water and determine next steps for conducting site cleanup.  VTDEC is working with USEPA to determine next steps to conduct additional sampling at the Pownal Tannery Lagoons and Landfill on Dean Road.  Quarterly sampling of POET systems continues along with bottled water delivery to residents with PFOA and PFOS contamination in their drinking water.
Sampling of residential homes in Pownal Center to determine the extent of groundwater contamination from the former Warren Wire Plant 3 located on Center Street did not reveal any impacts of PFOA or PFOS above detection limits in private wells.  VTDEC continues to work with current and past property owners to determine a long term sampling and remediation plan of impacted groundwater at this site.

New Well Source
Representatives from the Drinking Water and Groundwater Protection Division (DWGWPD) attended a site walk on June 6, 2017 to review several proposed well locations for the Pownal Fire District 2. The sites are located on land not owned by the Fire District. Once access agreements are finalized with the landowners, test wells will be installed at suitable sites to evaluate water quality and quantity of the groundwater and its suitability as a public water supply source. It is anticipated that well exploration and the new well source permitting process will start soon and continue through the summer and fall.  Engineering design and permitting for connecting a new well source to the existing water system will commence following the approval of the new water source.

infoInformation Resources Available
For general PFOA questions and concerns:
Call 802-828-1138.
Visit: Vermont DEC PFOA Response Page

For questions about potential health effects of PFOA:
Call the Vermont Department of Health toll-free at 800-439-8550.
You may also reply to this e-mail with general questions.