Saturday April 20, 2013

NEAL P. GOSWAMI

Senior Staff Writer

BENNINGTON -- Town officials are still waiting for a notice from the Environmental Protection Agency about how the will have to respond to contaminants found on an unused portion of Willow Park.

According to Town Manager Stuart A. Hurd, the EPA began looking into a wooded slope between the lower and upper fields at Willow Park after a resident told them chemicals from the former Jard Corp. were dumped there. The site is a former landfill that has been capped.

EPA and state Department of Environmental Conservation Officials were already tracking contamination of polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, along Park Street and Bowen Road, from the former Jard site. Testing by the EPA is ongoing in that area to determine the extent of the contamination.

Hurd told the Select Board earlier this month that the claim is untrue since the company was not operating in Bennington until after the landfill closed in 1968. However, EPA officials investigated the area with the town’s permission and did find some contamination.

According to Hurd, surface water along the slope is not contaminated and groundwater is "essentially uncontaminated." However, there is some contamination in the area, he said.

"There are PCBs, older PCBs, because those have been around since the 50s, in portions of the slope of the old landfill.


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There are other things that you would expected to find in a landfill, some of them are carcinogenic and we now have that data," Hurd told the Select Board.

A consultant has assured local officials that the contamination at the site is "relatively minor," Hurd said. Still, the town is awaiting a letter from EPA on how to respond.

Students from the adjacent Grace Christian School had been cutting through the area to get to playing fields but are no longer doing so based on a recommendation from the EPA, according to Bennington Planning Director Daniel Monks.

"Our consultant has informed us that it is not a public health and safety concern based on the information provided so far by EPA," Monks wrote in an email.

Hurd told the Select Board the town hopes to deal with the issue by blocking off access to the land. The town, and potentially the state, would be involved in any mitigation effort, he said.

Contact Neal P. Goswami at ngoswami@benningtonbanner.com, or follow on Twitter: @nealgoswami