OFFICE OF THE SELECTBOARD
Town of Halifax, Vermont
SELECTBOARD REGULAR MEETING MINUTES
August 7, 2018
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 7:00 p.m. Selectboard members Lewis Sumner, Mitchell Green, and Bradley Rafus were present, as were Peggy Rafus, Ray Combs, Charles Cunningham, Sandie Cunningham, Diana Conway, Nancy McCrae, Hope Phelan, and Robbin Gabriel.
Changes and/or Additions to Agenda
Approval of Previous Meeting Minutes
Lewis Sumner made a motion to accept the 7/17/18 regular meeting minutes as written. Brad Rafus seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
Rafus advised he had measured the section of Old County Road North under discussion for reclassification; the distance is 1,640 feet. Sumner made a motion to add Old County Road North to the two other roads under consideration for change from Class 4 to Class 3, and set a date for a hearing on all. Mitch Green asked whether the Board should discuss any other roads to include in one motion. Parts of Aldrich and Hall Roads would move to Class 3, while the Old County North section would change from legal trail to Class 4. The Board conferred on possible dates for a site visit and a public hearing, ultimately choosing Saturday, September 15th for site visits, with Hall Road at 9:00 a.m., Aldrich at 9:30 a.m., and Old County North at 10:00 a.m. The hearing will be at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, September 18th, preceding the regular Selectboard meeting. Sumner made a motion to reclassify 1,640 feet of legal trail on Old County Road North to Class 4. Rafus seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0. (Note: A motion to reclassify Aldrich and Hall Roads was approved at the July 17th meeting.)
Mitch Green asked about TH52 (Old Stage Road), which was discussed at a previous meeting. Sumner said the Board was waiting to hear from Town Attorney Bob Fisher about a previous ruling on reclassification of that road. Rafus added that was also true of Worden Cemetery Road. If those roads aren’t addressed this year, said Sumner, they can be considered next spring.
Spring 2018 PFC Test Results
Rafus said he would recuse himself during this portion of the meeting. May testing of the monitoring well at the Branch Road closed landfill showed 167.3 ng/l (parts per trillion); this exceeds Vermont groundwater standards of 20 ng/l. At the Town’s request (and not as a State requirement), the private well at 1547 Branch Road was also tested. Hope Phelan, the property owner, explained that a sample could not be obtained directly from the well. A trace amount of PFOA (1.66 ng/l) was found in a sample taken from the kitchen sink. This result is uncertain, however, as the certified PFC-free field blank sample used in the test also showed trace amounts when lab-tested. Phelan said a future test would be done with a plumber present to give direct access to the well. Brad Rafus said in his opinion this was an environmental consultant error; they should retest at no charge. The method used was against protocol, said Peggy Rafus, testing should be done before the filter. She explained that the blank field sample is opened on-site, at the same time the water is being tested, and the blank is a control testing for airborne traces of PFCs. The next testing round is scheduled for October; Peggy Rafus said she was not comfortable waiting that long; she is very concerned that the landfill monitoring well is showing higher results, and would also like to have the Rafus private well retested.
What is the radius affected?, asked Charles Cunningham. Brad Rafus told him we know PFCs are in the #3 and #4 Town landfill monitoring wells. We have tested the Town Garage water well, and the Tamburrino and Rafus private wells; all tested negative. Nancy McCrae, who owned a farm in rural near the Ohio River in southeast Ohio prior to becoming a permanent resident of Halifax, spoke of her experience with C8 contamination in her former home area. C8 is another name for PFOA; McCrae said the Ohio contamination resulted from DuPont’s manufacture of Teflon products and was found to have spread as much as 35 miles from the source over a period of approximately 15 years. While many rural homes in New England rely on drilled wells for their water, McCrae’s farm and the surrounding area receives water from a rural supply system. Following the discovery of the contaminant, that water system was equipped with large carbon filters, which have been successful in removing the C8. McCrae said the C8/PFOA contamination problem is widespread; testing has even revealed C8 levels in the blood of polar bears.
A general discussion ensued, covering the Saint-Gobain manufacturing company’s involvement in contamination found in Bennington, Hoosick (NY) and elsewhere; the sludge imported years ago to cap the Halifax landfill; changes in State standards for acceptable PFC levels; and the difficulty of used carbon filter disposal. Ray Combs spoke of another Vermont contamination issue; a reported 35,000 gallons of sewage dumped into Lake Champlain this year from various sources. We have to help pay for Lake Champlain, commented Green, the State should help us pay for this (PFCs in Halifax). Brad Rafus has concerns about property values. If you sell your property, you have to disclose the issue, he said. Is there another (environmental consultant) company we can use?, asked Sandie Cunningham. In response to McCrae’s question about testing costs, Sumner quoted $1,240 for the most recent landfill test. Rafus told Chuck Cunningham the Town has tested private wells on property abutting the landfill in an attempt to establish a contamination perimeter, but in general property owners wishing to have their water tested would need to do it at their own expense. Answering a question from Phelan, Rafus said sludge, which promotes vegetation growth, was trucked in to cap the landfill over 20 years ago. There was conversation about potential contractor responsibility; Sumner said when the work was done no one was aware of PFCs; testing was only begun a few years ago. Peggy Rafus said that the State notified the Town of PFC presence in September 2016. When the landfill was closed, she continued, Halifax had a sludge ordinance, but the landfill capping process was approved by the Selectboard. Green said the local contamination originated with Saint-Gobain, and the State should go back to them for relief. The State is calling the shots on PFC testing requirements, said Brad Rafus. They approved the landfill capping, so they’re going to put the blame elsewhere. KAS (environmental consultant) works for the State; you have to look at the big picture. Maybe we shouldn’t send the State our Act 60 money, he added. Peggy Rafus advised that legislation designed to hold Saint-Gobain responsible for clean-up, including private wells, failed to pass. She noted that earlier, when the PFC story was being reported in the newspapers, more people were paying attention. Now that reporting has stopped, fewer people are attending meetings.
Chuck Cunningham asked if the chemical could be in the air, in water after it was boiled, and in the meat of animals raised for food. McCrae said the Ohio contamination came to light because cattle on a farm near the DuPont plant were getting sick and dying. The stories I’m telling you are extreme examples, she added; in that Ohio area, subsequent to a large class action suit, DuPont is paying for bottled water, and carbon filter installation. The carbon filters have been very effective in removing the contaminant. McCrae recognizes that the contamination levels in Halifax are much less; you’re far away from getting money from the company, she said. Ray Combs told the meeting e. coli levels in the Guilford section of the Green River are very high just now, and swimming is not recommended.
The Board directed Gabriel to provide them with a list of companies certified to test for PFCs, and to invite State Representative John Gannon to attend a meeting to discuss the PFC situation. Gabriel will also speak with KAS Environmental about retesting the Phelan well at no cost. This topic will be on the Selectboard agenda at their August 21st meeting. McCrae offered to talk to people she knows in Ohio who are involved in water testing and contamination issues, and will pass on any information she receives about testing companies and procedures.
Brad Rafus reported that FEMA monies have been obligated, and we are waiting to receive funds. The hydrology study on the Hatch School Road culvert was done today; we will be soliciting bid requests on the repairs next week.
Hearing of Visitors
Selectboard’s Order to Treasurer for Payment
The Selectboard’s Order to the Treasurer was reviewed and signed.
Correspondence was reviewed and filed. The signed yearly Rescue contract was received. The Board received an invitation to Deerfield Valley Rescue’s open house a week from Sunday. Brad and Peggy Rafus, and Mitch Green, indicated they would join with Marlboro Selectboard members in a yet-to-be-scheduled ICS-402 (Incident Command System) training session.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:28 p.m.