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Bennington residents updated on PFOA contamination deal for east side

January 29, 2019 12:12 AM

BENNINGTON – The State of Vermont has made an agreement in principle with Saint-Gobain regarding PFOA water contamination at homes on the east side of Bennington.

"We are all waiting for municipal water because we can't drink our well water,” said resident Lora Block.

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Block was one of many residents at a public meeting Monday night at Mount Anthony Union Middle School. It was there state officials announced the likely deal with Saint-Gobain. The company owned a plant in Bennington where PFOA was used. The chemical has been linked to causing certain types of cancers.

The agreement includes a water line extension project to homes on the east side.

"Where it's appropriate and not all locations are really suitable for water lines,” explained Chuck Shwer Director of the Waste Management and Prevention Division at the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation. “There are areas where it could be a long line with one or two homes and then we worry about the water quality because it stays stagnant in the pipes. Those locations will probably look at two other remedies. A replacement well would be preferred if we can find a clean source, but if we try that and it's not successful then it would be long term operation maintenance of a POET (point-of-entry treatment).”

This agreement for the east side comes two years after Saint-Gobain and the state made an agreement for water line extensions to homes with PFOA water contamination on the west side.

“It was insane, we didn't understand why they made that distinction,” said Block. “It looked like Saint-Gobain was really trying to worm out of their responsibility."    

Saint-Gobain had said it didn’t feel responsible for the contamination on the east side, but that changed.

“In sharing out data back and forth between the two various experts, I think in my opinion, they came around to see more our side of the story,” said Shwer.

In all, Saint-Gobain will shell out about $40 million in settlements over PFOA water contamination in Bennington.

"It looks like we're at the end point, I'm very grateful for that,” said Block.

Shwer said the state hopes to file a formal agreement with Saint-Gobain in court by the spring. They’re currently waiting for the final design of the project to be completed. The water line extension project on the east side should be completed by 2020.

Credits

Emily DeVito

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