Bennington community seeks long-term solutions during PFOA meeting

BENNINGTON, Vt. (NEWS10) – Vermont state officials attended a meeting in Bennington to discuss the long-term solution to the PFOA crisis.

The meeting was held at Bennington College and featured returning faces who anxiously waited for an update on the municipal extension project. The project will potentially connect 15 to 20 customers with contaminated wells to town water, and it will cost millions.

The Department of Environmental Conservation said the project can cost $2 million for the final design phase and up to $40 million for the actual construction.

“You know, I think they’re trying to do their best,” Bennington resident Pat Cushman said. “It’s a big problem, and they keep finding more houses that are involved. Mine was one of the first because it was close.”

Daniel Walton has lived in Bennington for several years. He said his blood test results came back higher than the national average, and he hopes there will be a future fund set in place in case the town water causes health problems.

“It doesn’t mean it leaves your body,” he said. “It can be in your liver. It can be in your kidneys.”

The Department of Health assured the crowd that PFOA is proven to reduce over time.

“Research shows that PFOA reduces in half every two to four years, and we expect nothing different from this community,” Shannon Tatro, with Vermont DOH, said.

Two more blood clinics are planned for November, but eligibility will depend on how long a person has lived at the home, and if they lived or worked at the former Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics site.

“We are going through those results, and this is a start of a process, so we are going in conversations with the town on what those results mean,” Vermont DEC Commissioner Alyssa Schuren said.

To close the meeting, the DEC laid out its next course of action by identifying the three-part remediation plan.

The DEC said it hopes it’ll start construction on the water line project by the end of the year. However, the DEC said it will be harder to meet that deadline if the project is paid for by the state.

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