Shumlin: More wells to be tested in North Bennington

The state of Vermont is going to test an additional 80 to 100 private water wells in the North Bennington area after earlier tests found varying levels of a toxic chemical in five wells in the community, Gov. Peter Shumlin said Monday.

No contamination was found in the area's public water source in the same tests, whose results were announced last week.

The potentially cancer-causing chemical, known as PFOA, was found after Vermont officials heard news reports about contamination in nearby Hoosick Falls, New York.

Vermont officials say they don't know the source of the contamination, but they note it's the same chemical that was found at an industrial plant in Hoosick Falls, and the same chemical was used at one time in a now-closed plant in North Bennington.

The wells to be tested are in a 1 1/2-mile radius surrounding the former Chem Fab plant in North Bennington.

Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics, a producer of high-performance polymer products, owns the New York factory believed to be responsible for the contamination in Hoosick Falls.

The company, part of Paris-based Saint-Gobain Corp., acquired the North Bennington plant in 2000 and closed it in 2002, said it would pay for bottled water and filtering systems for the affected locations and any others that might be found in the future.

Officials say residents with wells being tested should not drink the water while results are pending. Bottled water will be provided.


Officials: Net metering vital to 8.5-megawatt solar plan

Officials say plans to build an 8.5-megawatt solar project in Merrimack County can't proceed until more people are allowed to net meter.

Franklin Mayor Ken Merrifield said the solar installation, slated to become the largest in the state, would help halve the city's electric bill.

The project has received municipal approval, but Merrifield says the project is made financially viable through net metering, which lets customers sell excess solar power back into the grid.

Lawmakers are considering legislation that would double the sate-set cap to 100 megawatts and require the Public Utilities Commission to review current net metering rates.

While some say the bill doesn't go far enough, opponents say solar customers don't pay enough for pole and wire maintenance due to net metering.

New England cod fishermen face new cost, fear future

Some of New England's embattled cod fishermen say they might have to go out of business because of a new cost the federal government is about to impose on them.

Fishermen of important commercial species such as New England cod, pollock and haddock must pay the cost of fishing monitors under new rules scheduled to take effect Tuesday.

The monitors are paid to collect data to help determine future fishing quotas. Their services can cost more than $700 per day. The federal government had been paying the bill.

Fishermen and advocates for the industry say the cost will sink a fleet already struggling with tight quotas. Some fishermen also say a reduction of effort by New England fishermen could make popular food species less available to consumers.

– The Associated Press