Vermont officials say the state has reached a final agreement with St. Gobain over properties in Bennington contaminated with PFOA.
Vermont Governor Phil Scott was surrounded by agency officials and representatives from the Bennington area as he announced that St. Gobain and the state have reached a final agreement that covers all PFOA-impacted homes in Bennington and North Bennington. It builds upon a 2017 agreement. “Under this agreement water line extensions will be available to an additional 245 homes and businesses in Bennington bringing the total to 470 across the town and village. We estimate this additional water line work to be about 20 to 25 million dollars. As was the case on the west side we know that for some residents it will not be feasible to connect them to water lines. In those instances St. Gobain will be obligated to either drill them a well or maintain their treatment system until it’s no longer needed.”
St. Gobain also agreed to drop its challenge of a 20-part-per-trillion health advisory standard set by the Vermont Health Department. Agency of Natural Resources Deputy Director Peter Wolk said St. Gobain executives could not attend but read a statement from company spokeswoman Dina Pokedoff. “St. Gobain is pleased to have reached an agreement with the state of Vermont regarding Corrective Action Area 2 and in reaching our shared goal access to potable drinking water for the residents of Bennington. Since first learning about PFOA in certain groundwaters in Bennington we have strived to take a leadership position in regard to this issue and work collaboratively with local and state authorities. We will continue to work in cooperation with officials as the work gets underway.”
Bennington state Senator Democrat Dick Sears says the state is fulfilling a promise to clean up residents’ water. “Something that we all take for granted I think that when we turn our faucet on we’re going to have clean drinking water and even today some of those that are still on the portable systems can’t take a good shower because the water pressure is so low. They’re still drinking bottled water. So this is a tremendous step forward. Now we’re not all the way yet. But when I compare this to my neighbors in Hoosick Falls, New York what we’ve accomplished here hopefully they’ll learn from us in New York and move forward for those folks and as well the folks in Merrimack, New Hampshire that were also impacted by PFOA.”
Sears added that this agreement would not affect a separate class action suit seeking damages from ongoing medical monitoring, home values and other issues. “It’s in court. It probably will be settled we hope rather shortly. But its ah it’s a second part of this. They’re two separate actions. The state promised to provide clean drinking water. That’s what the state has delivered.”
Construction on the waterline extensions is expected to begin this summer and take about two years to complete.