Deadline Extended For Comments About Groundwater Plan

BENNINGTON, Vt. (AP) — The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation has again extended the public comment period on the reclassification of groundwater as non-potable in parts of Bennington and Shaftsbury because of PFAS pollution.

The deadline to submit comments will be May 28 and another virtual public meeting will take place but has not yet been scheduled, state officials said, according to the Bennington Banner.

“We have heard the community that they need more time and more information and we want to be responsive to those requests," department Commissioner Peter Walke said by email. "We believe this approach will give more residents the opportunity to engage with us and ask questions they may have.”

Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, collectively called PFAS, were found around two former Chem-Fab Corp. factories in North Bennington. The substances are used in products like nonstick cookware, carpets, firefighting foam and fast-food wrappers and have been linked to health threats ranging from cancer to decreased fertility.

The main reason for reclassifying the groundwater “is to protect human health and safety by providing a formal notification to landowners, well drillers, and permitting agencies that groundwater is or may be contaminated by PFAS,” according to the department.

Saint-Gobain Performance Plastic, the last operator of the closed factories, provided some $50 million for new water lines and to cover other remediation costs since contamination was first detected in wells in 2016.