Superfund sites up for 5-year review


BENNINGTON -- The Environmental Protection Agency will be checking on 27 completed Superfund sites in New England this year, including a landfill, electronic capacitor factory, and former tannery in Bennington County.

According to the EPA, these routine reviews are done every five years.

A Superfund site is a property that has been on the "National Priorities List" to get federal funding for either cleaning them up or ensuring on-site pollution does not spread. Once a Superfund site is completed, the EPA inspects it every five years to make sure the efforts to protect human and environmental health are still in place and working. After the reviews are complete, the EPA issues recommendations if necessary. The public is also invited to offers its input.

In Vermont, seven sites are up for review this year, including two in Bennington and one in North Pownal.

One site is the "Bennington Municipal Sanitary Landfill" located off Houghton Lane. According to the EPA's website, the Superfund cleanup project there was largely completed in 1999. The site is roughly 15 acres and was a gravel and sand pit before becoming a landfill in 1969. From then until about 1975, several companies dumped liquid waste into an unlined lagoon at the site. Waste included PCBs (A chemical compound known to cause cancer in humans), organic solvent, and lead. In 1975, attempts to dry up the lagoon failed, so the following year a drainage system was built to lower the amount of groundwater beneath the landfill. In 1986 it was discovered that contaminants were being discharged into the groundwater around the site.

About 2,200 people live within three miles of the landfill and use private wells. The site is three miles from Morgan Spring, which Bennington uses to supplement its main water source.

According to the EPA, the landfill was capped and the discharge of polluted water was collected and treated. There have been no further problems with the site.

The other Bennington site being reviewed this year is Tansitor Electronics, Inc., now known as Vishay Tansitor Inc., located on West Road. According to the EPA, Tansitor had disposed of 115 drums of "process wastes" directly into an unnamed stream or into the ground. Waste was found to have entered surface water around the site, but no contamination was found in drinking water and according to the EPA there is no threat to human health. A long-term cleanup plan was formed in 1995 and is being followed.

In North Pownal, the site being reviewed is the former Pownal Tanning Company. Located between the Hoosic River and Route 346, the company tanned and finished hides until 1988 when it went bankrupt. Between 1937 and 1962 untreated water form the tanning process was dumped into the river. After 1962, six lagoons were constructed to receive the water waste, and in 1982 a landfill was created for sludge. In 1982, two thirds of the landfill was capped, with the remaining third being uncapped until 2001 when a number of remedial steps were taken to clean and secure the site. Cleanup work at one of the lagoons was completed in 2004, and part of the site has been home to the Pownal Waste Water Treatment Facility since 2006.

Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at or follow him on Twitter @KWhitcombjr.


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