Public getting chance to quiz officials about Pownal well site

Pownal well
The current well site of the Pownal Fire District 2 water system stands in a field off Route 346 next to an enclosed carbon filtering system installed last year after PFOA contamination was discovered. The district is eyeing a site for a replacement well. Photo by Jim Therrien/VTDigger

POWNAL — A public information session is scheduled for Oct. 18 regarding the proposed site for a new Pownal Fire District 2 well to replace the water system’s contaminated one.

The district hopes to drill a new well to serve the system’s approximately 450 customers on a Northwest Hill Road site that is part of the Pollert Farm property.

Monday the district board approved the informational session, to be held from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Pownal Rescue Squad building. Neighbors of the proposed well site, who will be notified, and other members of the public will have a chance to learn about the proposal and ask questions.

A new well became necessary after PFOA, or perfluorooctanoic acid, was discovered early last year at the current well site, located off Route 346 about 1,000 feet from the former Warren Wire/General Cable factory. State environmental officials believe that mill was the source of the contamination; both companies used Teflon coatings, a source of PFOA, in their manufacturing processes.

A carbon filtering system was installed last summer at the current wellhead and will remain in place until a new water source can be approved by the state and the connecting water lines installed.

Unicorn Management, of Danbury, Connecticut, was hired in 2016 by American Premier Underwriters of Cincinnati, the company that has assumed environmental liability for the former factory site, and is overseeing the firm’s response to the contamination.

That response includes the well search, being conducted for Unicorn by Otter Creek Engineering, in addition to the carbon filtering system at the current well site and bottled water for affected residents.

Tim Raymond, operations and engineering section chief with the state’s public drinking water program, said Tuesday that a state hydrogeologist is expected to attend the informational session.

Raymond said the permit process for a new public water source will be lengthy and include at least two more public meetings. A 30-day comment period also will be part of the process.

The suitability of the parcel for a public water source well will have to be determined first, he said, and that will be followed by extensive testing of the well output and water quality. Tests will likely include those for inorganic chemicals, volatile organic chemicals, synthetic organic chemicals, radiochemicals and other substances.

In general, Raymond said, a 200-foot protective radius is required around the well, or approximately 4 acres. Next steps would include gaining a permit to drill the well and later to connect to the district system.

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Jim Therrien

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