VT governor signing PFOA bill into law in Bennington

BENNINGTON, Vt. (NEWS10) – A bill signed by Governor Phil Scott will allow the government to streamline the process and allow them to be better able to hold polluters responsible.

“We will all be there. We will be continuing to fight for the best interest of these communities but Saint-Gobain must be there with us for this to move forward,” Peter Walke, Deputy Secretary Agency of Natural Resources, said.

Walke said that negotiations with Saint-Gobain, the company being held responsible for PFOA water contamination in Bennington, have come to somewhat of a standstill but says everyone is still at the table.

The state wants Saint Gobain to pay to extend municipal water lines to homes that have contaminated wells.

“This may come through a settlement agreement with Saint Gobain or as a result of litigation, either way, we will be here with you to ensure that Saint-Gobain is held responsible for that contamination,” Vermont Governor Phil Scott said.

That clear message coming from Gov. Scott, who signed bill S.10, on Friday. The bill requires any person who released PFOA to extend a municipal water line to all wells impacted by PFOA.

Residents like Anna Swierad are praying that it doesn’t come to litigation. Her well is five times higher than the state standard for PFOA of 20 parts per trillion.

“I just hope that it can be solved for my children and grandchildren. I mean that’s the reality of life, it’s litigation and when the company has a lot of money behind them it can continue on and on and on so it’s nice to know that at least we have the government behind us.”

The state says it hopes to break ground on the municipal waterline extension project sometime this year if a settlement agreement is reached with Saint-Gobain.

“We are having water delivered by WD Mason so we have a constant supply of clean drinking water,” Bill Knight, of Bennington, said. “So I feel somewhat confident for the time being that we’re safe just don’t know how long it’s going to last.”

Saint-Gobain issued ths statement:

“Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics is aware that the Vermont governor has signed the bill S.10 into law. Prior to the passage of the bill, we agreed to fund the engineering design studies evaluating the feasibility of municipal waterline expansions for the Town of Bennington and the Village of North Bennington. We are in ongoing conversations with the State as we work toward achieving our shared goal: ensuring residents of Bennington and North Bennington have access to clean drinking water.”

 

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