State to hold 'open house' on PFAS efforts

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BENNINGTON — Vermont officials will host an "open house" next week to answer questions about the state's ongoing efforts to address PFAS chemical contamination in the Bennington area.

The event will be held from 3 to 7 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 9 and from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 10 at the Downtown State Office Building at 324 Main St.

John Schmeltzer and Richard Spiese, both of the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation's Waste Management and Prevention Division, will attend the open house.

PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are synthetic chemicals associated with negative effects on human health. In early 2016, PFOA, or perfluorooctanoic acid, a type of PFAS, was found in private drinking water wells near former ChemFab Corp. factories in Bennington and North Bennington.

The state considers Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics, which acquired ChemFab in 2000 and closed the local operation about two years later, the party responsible for dealing with the contamination.

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Schmeltzer said the open house will not mark any particular milestone but will serve as another opportunity for residents to ask about ongoing work on Bennington's east side related to a settlement reached earlier this year between the state and Saint-Gobain.

Through that agreement and another in 2017, Saint-Gobain has agreed to pay for the extension of municipal water lines to hundreds of properties impacted by PFAS pollution, as well as other costs.

Schmeltzer said he has fielded questions over the phone related to the work but thought it would be a "good idea to have people come and talk to us" in person.

More information about the state's response to PFAS contamination in Southwestern Vermont is available at https://dec.vermont.gov/pfas/pfoa.

Contact Luke Nathan at lnathan@benningtonbanner.com.


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