The 2016 discovery of toxic PFAS-contaminated drinking water in drinking water wells in Bennington County highlighted systemic problems with toxic chemicals in Vermont. PFAS is the class of toxic chemicals that pose significant threats to public health and the environment.
From the late 1960s through 2002, ChemFab Corp. (which operated two factories in Bennington), coated fiberglass and other fabrics with liquid Teflon and dried the products at high temperatures, producing factory stack emissions. Teflon contains PFOA, which is a type of PFAS.
The state of Vermont believes this is how ChemFab (acquired by Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics in 2000) spread the pollution in a wide swath around the two sites, in turn contaminating groundwater and surface drinking water supplies. More background is available via Bennington Banner.
After meager progress in the 2017-2018 Legislative session, in 2019 Vermont enacted a number of policies that reduce Vermonters’ potential exposure to harmful chemicals, including in our drinking water.
Testing drinking water for PFAS
Governor Scott signed into law a bill (S.49) addressing cancer-causing PFAS chemicals that requires the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) to test all public drinking water supplies and develop drinking water and surface water standards for PFAS chemicals.
We are working with ANR to push for a strong monitoring program so we can better understand where PFAS contamination exists in the state, and to ensure swift adoption of health-protective PFAS drinking water regulations.
Lead contamination in drinking water
A bill that requires testing and cleanup of any lead contamination in drinking water in all Vermont schools and childcare facilities (S.40) was also signed into law. We will be watchdogging the bill’s implementation to ensure all our children, teachers, and staff are drinking water at school that’s safe from lead contamination.
Vermont sues over the manufacture and distribution of PFAS
In June 2019, the State Attorney General T.J. Donovan took legal action to protect Vermonts drinking water and natural resources by filing two lawsuits against companies over the manufacture and distribution of PFAS chemicals and PFAS-containing products in Vermont. Read more in the Bennington Banner.
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