Vermont DEC geologists work to build 3D map for PFOA contamination


BENNINGTON, Vt. (NEWS10) — A Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation geologist is gathering data to help build a 3D map of the ground underneath Bennington.

How is PFOA contamination moving through groundwater, and where may it turn up next? That’s what a Vermont DEC geologist and his team are in the process of finding out by piecing together a 3-D map of the ground beneath Bennington that may lead to clean water sources.

A probe is going some 340 feet underground, surveying the conditions of a contaminated private well.

Deep underground, Vermont DEC geologist Jon Kim is searching for answers about groundwater contaminated with PFOA. More than 250 private wells in Bennington are contaminated at wildly different levels.

Bit by bit, Kim and his team will piece together a 3-D map of the bedrock aquifer underneath Bennington.

“When you think about all these different data sets, we’re putting this together to try to understand how groundwater and the contaminant is moving around in the subsurface,” Kim said.

They are using geophysical tools to survey Wayne Kachmar’s well. Measuring temperature, conductivity, and bedrock formation are clues that may explain why Kachmar’s well showed PFOA levels of 760 ppt and counting, while his neighbor’s well was non-detect.

“It was a shock to see it go up 100 parts per trillion each month,” Kachmar said. “The more information we get, the better off we’re all going to be because the goal of this is to find places we can hopefully sink a well and have clean water.”

If Kim and his team can trace the path of contamination, the map may also lead them to clean water sources.

“If groundwater is carrying contamination with it, we want to be able to think about what direction is this moving,” Kim said. “So the ability to do some kind of prediction I think is really important.”

The crew plans to do this to about a dozen more wells, but this is only phase one of the aquifer characterization.

They plan to complete this part of the project by the end of the year, and once all of their data is collected, they will be compiling that information to build the 3-D underground map.

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