Under $1 million to clean up Putnam

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BENNINGTON — Cleaning up the Putnam Block is expect to cost just shy $1 million, with the lion's share of the money going towards the removal of a chemical called "trichloroethylene."

The public was largely absent from Wednesday's hearing on the clean-up plan, but project engineers still took the time to go over the plan and answer what questions there were.

The Putnam Block Project is a $54 million renovation plan for the buildings on the southwest side of Bennington's Four Corners. Local investors, including Southwestern Vermont Health Care, Bennington College, Southern Vermont College, the Bank of Bennington, and individuals, plan to invest and take advantage of grants and tax incentives to revitalize the block, and with it hopefully the rest of downtown.

The cost for remediation is projected to be about $928,000, according to the report. The largest portion, $232,000, will go towards removal of trichloroethylene (TCE) from the site. Also included in the cost estimate is a $189,000 contingency in case the extent of the TCE contamination is greater than what is currently known, which will become apparent when the lumber yard structures are removed as part of the first phase of the project. The remainder of the cost is $38,000 for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) removal, $171,000 for remaining area soil excavation, $28,000 for long-term groundwater monitoring, $24,000 for passive vapor mitigation systems, $69,000 for engineering services and project management, $44,000 for long-term sampling and reporting, and $126,000 in general contingencies.

"No separate funding source for the remediation has yet been committed," said Bill Colvin of the Bennington County Regional Commission, "We will be pursuing funding through both the State of Vermont Brownfields Program and the EPA. In any event, a substantial portion of the clean up, even if successful with the two sources noted, will fall to the project itself."

The report was presented by senior project managers Scott Harding and Tim Andrews of Nobis Engineering Inc., the firm that performed the testing of the site and put the plan together.

The TCE contamination was detected primarily under the area between the former H. Greenberg & Son hardware store entrance and the business' lumber yard, bordering Washington Avenue and Franklin Lane. Trichloroethene was used as a solvent, such as in dry cleaning, and as a degreaser for metal parts.

"Once we had discovered and confirmed the existence of the TCE contamination we knew it was going to be a primary component of the remediation of the site," said Andrews, "Because we knew that it was going to have to be remediated in some kind of off-site fashion, most likely... I would note that the TCE contamination was really noted as a shallow, surficial application as a source. As you went deeper with this sampling, because we did do some vertical distribution, we ended up with concentrations decreasing as we went deeper. So the TCE contamination was concentrated in the upper five feet in that area."

"The most likely hypothesis is that it was some surficial application," he said, "Possibly somebody was out there at some time spraying down motors with a solvent, de-greasing, or something like that. There's no real solid concentration, no real hot-spot in this area. The concentrations, while they exceed (actionable levels), they are relatively low compared to some point-source discharge that would be likely in the event that someone was dumping stuff down a drain. The scenario really appears to be either something that was applied either surficially or some type of a surficial impact that has slowly migrated down through the soil."

The full 99-page Corrective Action Plan is available on the Agency of Natural Resources website and at the Bennington Town Office. Comments on the plan are due by July 28 and can be emailed to Kristi.Herzer@vermont.gov, or mailed to M&S Development, P.O. Box 1585, Brattleboro, VT 05302.

Reach staff writer Derek Carson at 802-447-7567, ext. 122 or @DerekCarsonBB


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