Pownal approves new filter system

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POWNAL — State contractors and a company potentially responsible for PFOA contamination are working with a municipal water district to install a filtration system.

American Premier Underwriters (APU) agreed earlier this month to pay for a granulated activated carbon (GAC) filter system for the Pownal Fire District No. 2.

The three members of the Prudential Committee voted unanimously last Friday to formally accept the filter's installation, according to Chairwoman Dorothy Baker.

"It's the quickest, and in this moment the best, way for us to at least temporarily have a solution," Baker said Wednesday.

But she stressed it's only a temporary solution and that the committee believes the state should continue searching for a new water source for the system that serves about 450 customers in the village of Pownal.

Baker said it's not clear how much APU will pay for the system or when it would be completed. She said the committee was told that, once the filter system gained necessary state and local permitting, it would take roughly six to eight weeks to be connected to the water system and tested for effectiveness.

Early discussions indicate it could be there for up to two years, she said, and would require a heating source during winter months.

The state says APU is the party "potentially responsible" for contamination at the former Warren Wire No. 1 manufacturing facility on Route 346. Tests have found PFOA, or perfluorooctanoic acid, in water samples from the municipal system and nearby private wells. The man-made chemical was used to make Teflon for decades. Studies have linked it with cancer and other diseases.

APU will reimburse the state's Environmental Contingency Fund, which is paying for bottled water for affected residents. APU will also pay for point-of-entry systems on the homes with contaminated private wells.

APU is a successor to the Penn Central Corporation, the company that purchased GK Technologies. GK Technologies was formerly known as General Cable and purchased the 123,000-square-foot building from Warren Wire in 1963.

Baker said a draft memorandum to the committee from the engineering firm Weston and Sampson outlined four potential options. One was a GAC filtration system similar to the one Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics paid for in Hoosick Falls, N.Y.

Other options presented were: Connecting the Pownal Fire District No. 2 with the Williamstown municipal water system; hooking into a well at the former Green Mountain Racetrack; or finding a new source well.

Baker said committee members didn't believe those options were the quickest or easiest solutions. It would be necessary to get legal approval such as property easements — a process that could be more complicated if a water line has to cross state lines — for the first two. She said the racetrack well hasn't been tested for whether it's safe for a public water system.

But Baker said that, in the long term, options like that should be considered. She said the state is behind the committee.

"Everyone with the state really stepped up to the plate for us," Baker said.

Baker said her understanding was the GAC filter coming to Pownal would be similar to the one in Hoosick Falls, in that it would be portable – it's on a trailer and would sit on crushed stone or gravel, as opposed to something like a concrete pad.

Contact Edward Damon at 413-770-6979


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