North Bennington officials hold meeting for water contamination concerns

BENNINGTON, Vt. (NEWS10) – As water testing for PFOA continues in North Bennington, those with questions attended a town meeting Monday night.

Many people are anxious to learn how widespread the PFOA contamination is. After five private wells showed levels, one more than 100 times the state’s standard level, the Department of Environmental Conservation is going door-to-door to test more wells.

In addition to running more tests, the DEC set up water tanks for people in the area to fill up bottles.

“Everything runs through your mind,” Bennington resident Laureen Mulhern said.

For the first time, Mulhern feels that her children’s health is out of her control. She lives within a mile and a half of the former ChemFab site in North Bennington where several private wells tested positive for PFOA.

“It’s really hard for me to accept that I can do nothing at this point except to drink bottled water and tell the children to use bottled water to brush their teeth,” she said.

The state of Vermont started testing after a person came forward with concerns about the site’s owner, Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics. Saint-Gobain is one of the companies blamed for contaminating the Hoosick Falls water supply.

“We took it seriously,” Bennington Rep. Kiah Morris said. “We want to take care of these issues to get clear answers. We want them yesterday.”

“I have a 1-year-old and a 3-year-old,” Bennington resident Allison Meyer said. “Cooking, making bottles, using what we thought was safe well water is now concerning.”

At Monday’s community meeting, the DEC reminded people living near the site to not cook or drink with their tap water. Instead, Vermont DEC Commissioner Alyssa Schuren said Saint-Gobain has offered to provide free bottled water and to install filtration systems for affected homes.

“These are short-term measures,” she said. “We’ll have bottled water available every day moving forward until we get all test results back, and we understand the scope of these issues.”

It’s a good start, but for moms like Mulhern, the unknowns are overwhelming.

“You’ve watered the garden with that,” she said. “What vegetables did you plant over the years that you’ve been eating?”

The DEC and Vermont health officials set up a booth at the health department office located at 324 Main St. in Room 180 for anyone who has questions. Information will be available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Click, HERE, to learn more.

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