Letters to the editor – July 28, 2022

Charlotte Fire Department doesn’t use foam with PFAS

To the Editor:

I would like to clear up some misconceptions with regards to a fire our department responded to last winter at the garage located on Church Hill Road. Questionable statements have been published in multiple places that need to be set straight.

Type and Use of Foam at Fire Scenes

Charlotte Fire and Rescue (CVFRS) uses and has used for the last 20 years PHOS-CHEK 881 class A foam linked here which is a forestry service approved Class A foam. It is a surfactant, equivalent to Dawn Dish soap. It contains no added PFAS. PHOS-CHEK WD-881 Class A foam is highly biodegradable. More than 85 percent reverts to carbon dioxide within 28 days of exposure to ambient conditions in the environment. MSDA sheets are available at their website but are for pure concentrate exposure.

Prior to that we used a product called Flameout with the same properties.

CVFRS applies this product at a rate of 0.03 percent per gallon of finished foam in our compressed air systems which allows us a quicker knockdown with less time and water usage. Applying this with our Compressed Air Foam Systems (CAFS) to the point of being 5 to 10 times more effective than just plain water along with other benefits.

I’ve reached out to other area departments, most are our mutual aid partners, on their foam. Shelburne, Ferrisburgh, Hinesburg and Monkton fire departments all use one of the foams mentioned above and have for years for interoperability on the scene of a call and we can share foam at an incident.

As for the Air Guard apologizing for contaminating the site with PFAS and paying for the cleanup, the only thing they brought to the scene was 4,000 gallons of clean city water. The same as the first load of water from the departments of Hinesburg, Ferrisburgh, Shelburne, Vergennes and New Haven. When that water supply was depleted, water was pulled from two dry hydrants in ponds in Charlotte. It is important to note that these departments did not refill when leaving the scene due to the water being full of particles that is rough on the pumps of fire trucks.

If someone had brought a Class B foam with PFAS in it we would not have used it. Mixing it with the Class A foam used in our area would have turned into a jell which would have resulted in a repair costing in the range of $50,000 and placing the truck out of service for months.

We are aware and very mindful of the Issues of PFAS and to my knowledge have not used any in over 30 years. I can not attest to what was used prior to that.

As for using a year’s worth of foam to suppress the fire, CVFRS arrived on scene in less than 4 minutes with six firefighters. Using this foam allowed us to (1) save a truck next to the burning fuel tanks, (2) prevent the spread to the house across the road which was a real possibility and (3) prevent the rupture of two fuel tanks with 2,500 gallons of fuel which would have contaminated the waterway downstream into Lake Champlain. Furthermore, the main power line next to the building was on the verge of melting and did not have to be turned off. This line supplies many customers in Charlotte and other communities from the Velco substation in sub-freezing conditions.

Dick St. George

Good weather is time to prepare for storms

To the Editor:

I’ve been a lineworker at Green Mountain Power for 26 years. Over my career I’ve worked to keep Vermonters powered up in every kind of weather you can imagine. Severe weather comes to Vermont all year round. It can be windy, wet, freezing cold, icy, or sweltering hot.

These days I help lead the line crews. For the past four years I’ve been part of a team that coordinates during storm restoration. It is tough and exhilarating work but getting to help customers — especially turning the lights back on — is the very best part of the job.

Safety is critical to all the work we do — whether restoring power or working on important proactive resiliency projects — and there are steps you can take to be safe at home in case of severe weather.

It is good to have some basics on hand all year, and good weather is a great time to plan ahead. Make sure you have a charged cellphone, flashlights with fresh batteries, and some bottled water on hand. More tips that can help you get ready for storms are on the Green Mountain Power website.

It is also important to always stay far away from any downed lines or trees. That goes for when they’re down because of a storm or for when a vehicle crashed into a pole. Just stepping on the ground around a downed line could be deadly — the ground can be energized and there is no way for you to know. Always assume downed lines and trees are still energized, stay far away, and call for help.

The Green Mountain Power app is an easy way to report outages and get restoration alerts, plus manage your Green Mountain Power account and track energy usage. You can download it to your phone or tablet from the app store, and get more details from the Green Mountain Power website.

Stay safe and have a great summer season.

Glenn Johnson

New materials recovery facility is crucial to climate goals

To the Editor:

As a restaurant co-owner, I experience firsthand how much waste is generated in the food industry. We are a mission-driven company and try our best to reduce the amount of waste we send to landfill. Vermont state offers ample opportunities to recycle, but a large amount of waste is still not recyclable or compostable and sadly ends up in the landfill (Vermont only has one single landfill). Therefore, I was very excited to hear about the plans to update Chittenden Solid Waste District’s facility which will enable it to increase its capacity by 40 percent and recycle black plastic and smaller plastic parts like snap-off can covers.

Pingala Cafe alone sells about 8,000 canned drinks per year, most of which come packed in snap-off pack covers. This new facility would enable us to divert these from landfill. In 1993, when the facility was first built, Vermont didn’t have nearly as many businesses, such as ours, generating trash and recycling. This means that the aged facility is now at capacity and is in desperate need of modernizing. Both for the sake of the people who work there, and for folks like me, who want to do the right thing and recycle as much as possible.

Because the current materials recovery facility is at capacity, because the people who work there deserve updated equipment to make things more efficient and improve their work environment, and because Chittenden Solid Waste District must modernize to keep up with present and future packaging demands, I will be voting ‘yes’ on my November general election ballot to approve the bond for Chittenden Solid Waste District to build a new facility.

An up-to-date recycling facility is crucial to achieve Vermont’s climate goals and rebuild back better following the COVID pandemic. This plan is an obvious yes to make that happen.

Lisa Bergström

Thanks to library book sale buyers, donors and volunteers

To the Editor:

Thanks to all who enjoyed the recent Charlotte Library book sale on the porch. It was a hot day; the sun shone brightly and there were plenty of good reads for all ages and interests. Thanks to LuLu ice cream for providing cooling relief and to the School House volunteers who supplied shoppers with refreshing lemonade.

Many people donated books that were culled and sorted by an impressive number of library supporters. Thanks to all who volunteered to cashier at this event.

A special shout out to Jenny Blanshine who came to every donation session (and to her mother Carol who dropped her off and picked her up).

Also, we are very grateful to the library staff for their assistance with the sale and for tolerating the disruption.

Please note that a selection of recent volumes will be available in the program room for the foreseeable future. So, if you missed the sale you will still be able to stock up on books to carry you through the coming year.

Again, we are grateful to our town for the support of the library.

Nan Mason
(Nan Mason is president of the Friends of the Charlotte Library.)

Support Thomas Chittenden for Vermont State Senate

To the Editor,

I write this letter in support of Thomas Chittenden for Vermont State Senate.

As a first-term senator, Thomas is highly regarded by his colleagues as someone who listens to all points of view on issues and always deliberates and advocates for the best interest of Vermonters. Thomas is a champion for fiscal responsibility, education and environmental stewardship.

Thomas has been fully engaged and involved in his hometown South Burlington community as a city councilor, and he has worked tirelessly in his representation. His commitment to public service and dedication to helping Vermonters is inspiring and his actions as an elected official have been thoughtful, creative and caring.

Vermont needs people like Thomas Chittenden to serve in our Vermont State Senate. He has earned my vote and I hope you will consider joining me in voting for Thomas Chittenden for the Vermont Senate.

Frank Cioffi
South Burlington

Thomas Chittenden for Vermont State Senate

This letter is in support of Thomas Chittenden for Vermont State Senate.

Chittenden has demonstrated himself to be one of our very promising young leaders who understands the complex challenges of quality education, economic development and transportation infrastructure. Chittenden serves on both the Senate Transportation and Senate Education committees where, in a relatively short period of time, he has become highly regarded for his leadership and his dedication to helping Vermonters.

He and his wife are raising their family in South Burlington. He is a very involved parent and role model who understands the rewards and trials of raising a family in these very challenging times. His strong environmental values and advocacy for balance and consensus-building have earned him a reputation as one of the very best serving Vermonters today.

Please join me in voting for Thomas Chittenden for the Vermont Senate.

Lisa Ventriss
South Burlington

Supporting Chea Waters Evans for Chittenden-5 House seat

To the Editor:

It’s time for a change. I voted for Chea Waters Evans in the Democratic primary for the Chittenden-5 seat in the Vermont House of Representatives.

Evans loves her community and has always put in the work to make things better around our town. I and so many others have seen her energy, work ethic and sincerity in action, whether it’s her work for the school or as a journalist.

I respect Evans’ values, her commitment, her intelligence, and the fact that she has a healthy willingness to challenge the powers that be. Charlotte and Hinesburg are great communities and the collective talent of the people who live here is truly inspiring.

I don’t see any reason that we should be represented by the same person for more than a decade. If there were no reasonable alternative, I suppose another term for Mike Yantachka would be fine.

But we have an excellent option in Chea Waters Evans. She will work for us. She doesn’t owe anything to any ossified party apparatus. Evans’ loyalties are not to a political party, but to her values and to solving the many everyday, non-partisan problems faced by her fellow citizens. Chea Waters Evans is open-minded and has a mind of her own. She will listen and will not pander.

Thank you, Chea, for all of your work over the years, and thank you for running for the state house. I happily voted for Evans and I know that she will serve our community well.

Rich Sicotte

Politicians should not decide curriculum for our children

To the Editor:

A column by Jay Mathews provoked me to look at the fact-filled curriculum he admires. I read E.D. Hirsch Jr.’s new book, “American Ethnicity: A Sense of Commonality,” which he calls a sequel to his 1987 tome “The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know.”

Hirsch insists that “a school can teach anything to anyone if it has a mind to.” So, he puts kindergartners to studying globes and learning the seven continents. First-graders get the “Code of Hammurabi.”

According to Hirsch, what we need for our schools is “a mandatory commonality in the sequence of school topics.” Who decides this very specific and mandatory topic-by-topic, grade-by-grade list? Hirsch has the answer: state governors and legislators. He says these politicos would base this mandatory curriculum on “a list of what high-income adult Americans tend to know.”

So, if you’d entrust our school curriculum to the state politicos, then step right up and applaud Hirsch and Mathews. As a longtime teacher, I know our children deserve much better.

Susan Ohanian
(This letter originally appeared in The Washington Post.)