CLARENDON — The state suspects firefighting foam used during a 1986 plane crash near the then-Rutland State Airport could be the source of chemical contamination that has showed up in wells that serve the Rutland Airport Business Park. On Monday, state officials told the Clarendon Select Board that only two wells near the Rutland-Southern Vermont Regional Airport tested positive for PFOS and PFOA, or polyfluoroalkyl substances, that were higher than state standards. The two wells served hundreds of employees at the business park. Other wells tested in the area, particularly along Airport Road and at the state-owned airport, have revealed no detectable levels of the chemicals. The chemical is used many items, from waterproof fabric to pizza boxes. Chuck Schwer, of the state's Waste Management and Prevention Division, and Michael Nahmias, a hazardous site manager, told about two dozen Clarendon residents the state was doing additional testing of the residential neighborhood along Route 7B near the business park. Nahmias said a carbon-based filter system would be installed in the water system serving the eight businesses that get their water from the two wells, which are located on airport property but serve the business park. Businesses are being supplied with bottled water. The Select Board meeting was moved to the Community Center from the town hall to accommodate the crowd. Residents peppered Schwer and Nahmias with questions about how far afield the state would test for contamination and how sure they were that the source of the PFOS and PFOA was the firefighting foam from 32 years ago. Residents also told the state officials that drainage from the airport ended up in the Mill River, and in wetlands on the west side of the airport. A couple women who have worked for decades in the business park questioned whether they should have their blood tested for PFOA levels. Schwer said that people should discuss their concerns with their doctors. The Aug. 7, 1986, plane crash was off the west end of the east-west runway, said Schwer, and actually wasn't on airport land. Firefighting foam containing the toxic chemicals have also been used during training at the airport, he said. Nahmias said a second round of tests of the contaminated wells would be completed “any day now,” and might show different levels of the chemical. Michael Klopchin, chairman of the Clarendon Select Board, said before the meeting that he was disappointed that the state did not inform the town about the contamination issue, and that they learned about it in the Rutland Herald. “I'm sure that people are very interested,” he said. Lyle Jepson, executive director of the Rutland Economic Development Corp., praised the state's speed in getting the information out to the public and meeting with the community about the pollution problem. The Rutland Business Park's wells were tested on March 13, and the state got the results about two weeks later. Richard Gile, president of the Rutland Airport Business Park Association, said there had been “a very helpful response” from the state about the contamination. Klopchin, a former state legislator, said members of the Clarendon Select Board were willing to travel to Montpelier to make sure there was adequate funding for additional testing. Schwer said that wasn't necessary. “If we find it's spreading, we'll be back,”  Schwer said. People can sign up for a state newsletter that will have the latest information about the problem, he said. Schwer said the contamination was discovered because the state was tracking the use of the firefighting foam. He said sites in Bethel, Rockingham and Chester also used the foam, but tests found no residue. There are two different types of firefighting foam, he said, one contains the PFOA chemicals and the other doesn't. He said the state also found PFOA contamination from the foam at the Vermont Air National Guard site in Burlington and the Vermont firefighters training site in Pittsford. In Pittsford, the contamination was found in a small area and no private wells were affected. At the National Guard site, the area was served by a municipal water system, he said.

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