Company will pay for filters, PFOA response in Pownal


POWNAL >> A company has agreed to reimburse the state for costs associated with the response to a municipal water system contaminated by PFOA, the governor's office announced Tuesday.

APU (American Premier Underwriters), the party "potentially responsible" for water contamination around the former Warren Wire No. 1 manufacturing facility, has agreed pay to install a filtration system for the Pownal Fire District No. 2 water system, as well as filtration systems on private wells impacted by PFOA. The company will also reimburse the state for costs of water sampling and testing and providing bottled water to affected residents.

"The commitment from APU relieves pressure on the limited emergency resources contained in the Environmental Contingency Fund, which is currently being used by the Department to fund the Pownal response effort," stated an announcement from Gov. Peter Shumlin's office.

PFOA, or perfluorooctanoic acid, was used to make Teflon for decades. Studies have linked it with cancer and other diseases.

The news about Pownal came after groundwater testing by APU showed PFOA levels above what the state says is an acceptable level, or 20 parts per trillion (ppt). Groundwater monitoring wells around the former Warren Wire No. 1 facility showed levels up to 100 ppt, and in surface water, up to 260 ppt.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation tested water from the Pownal Fire District No. 2, a municipal water system serving about 450 customers, over concerns of past activities at the former factory at 1001 Route 346. The state has advised people with private wells within one mile of the factory to stop using tap water for drinking and cooking, and has also begun testing well water.

Tests on samples from the water system showed levels between 26 and 27 ppt.

DEC collected and analyzed 63 additional samples. Four wells were found to contain PFOA above 20 ppt, the highest being 66 ppt. Seven locations contained concentrations under 20 ppt. PFOA was not detected in 52 samples.

Since turning up in Hoosick Falls, N.Y. last year, PFOA was found in private wells around North Bennington homes. Neither the North Bennington or Bennington public water system were found to have PFOA.

The state is trying to determine where PFOA has been used and identified the wire coating industry, semi-conductor industry, and locations where fire-fighting foam was used repeatedly as places that should be tested.

Warren Wire started producing wire coated with Teflon at 1001 Route 346 in 1948.

General Cable bought the building and 10-acre parcel in 1963. General Cable changed its name to GK Technologies in 1979, according to it's website. GK Technologies was purchased by the Penn Central Corporation — a holding company formed by the Pennsylvania Central Railroad Company — in 1981.

GK Technologies, under the Penn Central Corporation ownership, sold the building in 1988 to the current owner, Mack Molding.

Mack Molding, which makes injection plastic molding, used the 123,000-square-foot building as a warehouse and assembling finished parts for years before placing it up for sale in 2010.

According to the Penn Central Railroad Historical Society, Inc., the Penn Central Corporation changed it's name to American Premier Underwriters (APU) in 1994. That company became a subsidiary of the American Financial Group a year later.

Contact Edward Damon at 413-770-6979


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