Water contamination closes Clarendon school

Published: Jun. 1, 2018 at 10:54 PM EDT
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PFAs were recently found in and around the Southern Vermont Regional Airport affecting homes and businesses. And now it’s been found at an elementary school.

"It's been a lot. It's been a lot to take in,” said Matt Jakubowski, with the Clarendon Fire Dept.

Jakubowski learned chemicals used at his fire department for decades might have contributed to water contamination at Clarendon elementary school.

State officials suspect foam used by the next door fire department to put out fuel fires has leaked into the school's public well.

Thursday the well tested positive for low levels of PFAs -- a toxic chemical linked to cancer.

"It is a minute amount but our level is set to be protective of the public health," said Peter Walke, Vt. Agency of Natural Resources.

Friday school administrators took caution and canceled school.

The idea to test the school's water comes about a month after high levels of PFAs were found in and around the Southern Vermont Regional Airport.

"We are trying to make sure that we limit people's exposure as much as possible,” said Walke.

Walke says the state is providing bottled water to affected homes and businesses.

But now, residents in Clarendon are worried, unsure if their wells are contaminated too.

"I'm definitely concerned about it,” said Jakubowski.

Clarendon Middle School is set to re-open Monday. State officials say they plan to re-sample the school and broaden their investigation into the surrounding community. The state says this chemical is used all over the country and linked to similar contamination cases. Walke says he's gone to Washington to push for a fix.