Water line extensions, settlement updates on tap in Bennington

(This story is by Edward Damon of the Bennington Banner, in which it first appeared July 21, 2017.)

BENNINGTON — State officials will update residents this week on plans to extend town water service to properties affected by PFOA contamination, legal negotiations with Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics, and the ongoing investigation into a former ChemFab Corp. plant, the suspected pollution source.

A community meeting will be held Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Bennington College’s Tishman Lecture Hall.

Representatives and staff from the Agency of Natural Resources, the Department of Environmental Conservation and the attorney general’s office will be present, according to a notice from the DEC.

In April, officials announced Saint-Gobain had agreed to fund final design work for extension of municipal water service to about half of Bennington properties affected by PFOA, or perfluorooctanoic acid. The chemical was used to make products coated with Teflon and has been linked to some cancers and other conditions.

It’s suspected to have come from a former factory on Water Street in North Bennington, where ChemFab began operating in the mid-1970s. Saint-Gobain acquired the company in 2000 and closed the plant in 2001.

The multinational company agreed to fund final design work for water line extensions to affected properties west of the railroad line, which was estimated to cost about $800,000.

Adding some 13 miles of water line was estimated to cost $30 million. State officials have said they would recover costs from Saint-Gobain.

At the April 28 meeting, ANR Deputy Secretary Peter Walke said the company and state agencies disagreed over at least two points concerning properties to the east of the rail line. Those include the question of whether the former town landfill site is the source of some of the PFOA contamination and whether the state’s models showing the extent of airborne PFOA contamination from factory smokestacks is correct. Walke said both parties agree more preliminary engineering work, soil studies and water testing was needed.

Some of that work will occur Tuesday and Wednesday, according to the DEC.

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  • rosemariejackowski

    If this is as good as it sounds, I just have one thing to say: THANK YOU TO ALL WHO WORKED TO MAKE THIS HAPPEN.
    Oh, just one more thing. Special thanks to the private citizen who exposed this in the first place after the EPA and other government agencies refused to test the water. He should be named, “Citizen of the Decade”.