Green Guide

Vermont seeks OK for settlement over water contamination

Posted September 8

— The state is asking a court to approve a settlement it reached with a company over contamination of some private water wells with a suspected carcinogen.

Under the agreement announced in July, Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics will pay $20 million to extend municipal water lines to about 200 homes in the Bennington area. As part of the deal, Vermont's lawsuit was dropped.

About six people opposed the proposal during a 30-day comment period, Department of Environmental Conservation attorney Matt Chapman told Vermont Public Radio .

"The state responded to each individual person who commented, and we take each comment very seriously," he said. "I think that in this particular case the state reached the conclusion that after a year and a half of negotiation it represents the best interests of both the state of Vermont and the community."

PFOA, or perfluorooctanoic acid, has been linked to certain kinds of cancer and other illnesses. It was used in coatings, such as Teflon, and in a range of consumer products over several decades. It was used at the now-closed Chemfab Corp. factory in North Bennington that is now owned by Saint-Gobain.

About 270 private wells are contaminated with the chemical. No contamination has been found in the public water systems in the area.

Saint-Gobain had previously provided bottled drinking water to affected homes and filters for home water systems. It has said its focus is on providing communities with clean water.

Saint-Gobain president Tom Kinisky said the company's willingness to fund the water line extension shows its commitment to resolving the issue.

"Providing potable drinking water to citizens of Bennington and North Bennington has always been our shared goal," Kinisky said over the summer.

The settlement agreement covers only part of the contaminated area.

A class action lawsuit has been filed by some residents, seeking damages for possible property value losses and the creation of a medical monitoring fund.

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