Re-testing shows one residence over PFOA limit in Shaftsbury

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SHAFTSBURY — The Shaftsbury Select Board approved purchasing a point-of-entry-treatment system for a home after tests showed PFOA levels above 20 parts per trillion.

After a well near the town's capped landfill tested at 25 ppt in July of 2016, the town tested 24 wells within a quarter mile radius, which all came back below the state limit, although in some an amount below the limit but higher than zero was detected.

"Our semi-annual well testing showed a blip of above 20 parts per trillion of PFOA," said Select Board Chairman Tim Scoggins. "A very small blip, it was 25, and it has been below 20, but the state has decided that because it has been above 20, we need to install a POET system, a water purifying system, into the house there."

Town Administrator David Kiernan reached out to Culligan Water Systems, which supplied many of the POET systems in other affected areas in Bennington County for an estimate, but pointed out that the initial cost, just over $4,000, would not be as much of a burden as the maintenance of the system, which the town will be responsible for moving forward. Kiernan said that the well in question was on the property of a private residence.

"All costs of the system are on the town, forever, or until the state takes it over," said Kiernan. State Rep. Alice Miller of Shaftsbury has previously introduced legislation that would have had the state assume responsibility for PFOA contamination for which the town is considered the responsible party. Shaftsbury is currently the only municipality in the state to find itself in this situation, as the landfill was operated by the town when the contamination occurred, although town officials have pointed out that PFOA was not regulated when the landfill was in operation.

The town has not been able to identify the source of the contamination.

"We fought the state on this whole liability question for the last two years, when this first came up," said Scoggins. "Alice Miller got in everybody's face at the state, from the governor on down to get us our money back, but the situation is, this is the way the law reads now. We're probably not going to be able to change that law because the state doesn't want to take on responsibility for every landfill in the state. So, we're going to handle this as best we can, and I think we can consider ourselves lucky if its just one POET system, because right next door (in North Bennington) our neighbors are suffering a lot more than we are."

"I think we should do what it takes to make this an acceptable situation for this person and to get it done with as quickly as possible," said Scoggins. The residents of the home were offered bottled water from the town on the day the test result came back, but did not take them up on the offer, but Kiernan said he never heard back.

Derek Carson can be reached at dcarson@benningtonbanner.com, at @DerekCarsonBB on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext. 122.

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