NORTH BENNINGTON — On Saturday, residents and state officials gathered for a roundtable discussion hosted by state Senators Dick Sears, D-Bennington, and Brian Campion, D-Bennington, about the perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) water contamination in North Bennington.
Those in attendance included candidate for Governor Sue Minter, state Reps. Bill Botzow, D-Bennington, Alice Miller, D-Bennington, and Kiah Morris, D-Bennington, and Bennington College staff.
Sears, Campion and Minter toured North Bennington early Saturday afternoon and had the community discussion at the Bennington College Center for the Advancement of Public Action (CAPA) right after. Minter, who visited Bennington County for three days, focused on what will be in store for the area in the long run, but also looked to help residents by going door-to-door to assist them for the short-term period.
"It's being said that the state is taking a lot of action," Minter told the Banner on Sunday, "but people are wondering what will happen in the future. They have anxiety and property value concerns."
The candidate is most concerned about the residents' access to clean water and their overall health. She believes she has what it takes to help those with contaminated water after being a Hurricane Irene Recovery Officer in 2011. During that time, over 500 miles of roads were rebuilt and millions of dollars in disaster aid was brought to the state, according to Minter's website.
"We need to come up with a short-term emergency response," she said. "I won't leave people behind. We must make the polluters responsible."
One solution Minter suggested was improving infrastructure and extending the municipal water system. She also visited water distribution sites during the town tour.
After the forum, Morris posted an update on her representative Facebook page and stated that a home with a private well surrounding Northside Drive has tested positive for PFOA.
There is an information center about the contamination issue at 324 Main St. at the Department of Health, which is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the weekends. More information can be found by calling 1-802-828-1038.
"I'm going to ensure protection for those affected," Minter said. "We need to keep pressing forward and get through this emergency phase."
Minter's campaign strives to grow the state's economy, support working families, protect the environment and make the government work.
The forum was a part of an initiative by Campion and Sears to invite candidates for governor to town to hear from residents about ideas and plans for clean water.
The area of interest map with contaminated locations and information about well testing can be found at http://www.anr.state.vt.us/dec/PFOA.htm.
— Makayla-Courtney McGeeney can be reached at (802)-447-7567, ext. 118.