Pownal replacement well site passes first test

POWNAL — Preliminary testing of a location for a replacement well for the Pownal Fire District 2 water system yielded promising results, the district board learned Tuesday.

Michael O’Connor, of Unicorn Management Consultants, of Danbury, Connecticut, which is overseeing the well site search to replace the current PFOA-contaminated source, said preliminary test borings showed the site on Northwest Hill Road to be suitable, pending further testing.

The parcel is on the Pollert Farm property along the western bank of the Hoosic River. Owner Terry Pollert attended the board meeting and said afterward he is interested in a possible agreement for use of the site, but will wait to hear more about the requirements for protecting a public water source.

Those include easement or use restriction considerations and a 200-foot buffer zone around the well.

The next step, the consultant said, is for Otter Creek Engineering, which was hired to conduct the search for a replacement well, to submit an application to the state for authorization to drill a wider-bore deep well. The process will involve a 30-day public comment period.

Scott Stewart, a hydrogeologist with the state Drinking Water and Groundwater Protection Division, said Wednesday that if approval is obtained for that site, the next step would be to seek approval to drill the well and perform the water testing required for a public water source.

Tests would likely include those for inorganic chemicals, volatile organic chemicals, synthetic organic chemicals, radiochemicals and other substances.
Another application would be needed to establish the well as a public water source, he said, and finally an engineering plan for connecting it to the water system would have to be approved.

That plan would include water line extensions and crossing the Hoosic River from west to east, as well as any water storage or other facilities that might be needed.

The Pollert Farm is across the river from the current well site to the east. The current site is off Route 346 and about 1,000 feet from a former factory believed by state officials to be the source of the PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) contamination.

The water system, which serves about 450 customers in the southern areas of Pownal, now has a carbon filtering system installed near the existing well head to remove PFOA from the water supply. That equipment, along with the search for a new well site and other costs associated with the contamination that was discovered in early 2016, are being covered by American Premier Underwriters of Cincinnati, the company that has assumed environmental liability for the former factory site when it was sold.

APU hired Unicorn Management Consultants to oversee the response to the contamination.

The former factory, which dates to the 1940s, was owned in the past by the former Warren Wire Co. and by General Cable Corp. Both companies used Teflon coatings, a source of PFOA, in their manufacturing processes.

The current owner is Mack Molding, which has used the building primarily as a warehouse.

No other potential well sites are being considered at this time, officials said. Two sites on former Green Mountain Race Track property east of the river near Route 7 have been identified as potential locations for a replacement well.

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