State Announces Settlement Agreement with Saint-Gobain

GOVERNOR PHIL SCOTT, ATTORNEY GENERAL TJ DONOVAN, AND BENNINGTON COUNTY LEGISLATIVE LEADERS ANNOUNCE A SETTLEMENT WITH SAINT-GOBAIN

Company will fund water line extensions for portion of Bennington and North Bennington and complete expedited investigation in remaining area impacted by PFOA

Construction on water lines will begin in 2017

State officials will present the terms of the settlement agreement in detail at two community meetings in Bennington this week

 

Today, July 25, 2017, Governor Phil Scott, Attorney General TJ Donovan, and Bennington County legislative members announced a settlement with Saint-Gobain. As part of the settlement, Saint-Gobain will fund water line extension for approximately 200 homes in a portion of Bennington and North Bennington. Construction of municipal water line extensions in both communities will begin in the fall, aiming to make significant progress before winter. The estimated costs of the water line project are approximately $20 million. In addition, Saint-Gobain has committed to completing an expedited investigation in the remainder of the impacted area, which will inform a resolution for that area. 

The State and Saint-Gobain have agreed on the drinking water remedies for the area roughly west of the train tracks that run along Rt. 7A in Bennington. The State and Saint-Gobain continue to discuss the possible sources of PFOA east of the railroad tracks. This settlement ensures that construction can begin in 2017 in the area where the State and Saint-Gobain have reached agreement. In the eastern area, both parties have agreed that additional information provided by the expedited investigation will improve understanding of the PFOA source or sources. 

Following that investigation, the State will seek a similar funding commitment from Saint-Gobain and/or any other party or parties responsible for the presence of PFOA in the eastern portion of the impacted area. If the State is unable to secure such a commitment, it will use authority provided by Vermont law to pursue long-term drinking water solutions for all impacted residents.

“This agreement represents important progress to ensure the people of Bennington and North Bennington have clean, safe drinking water,” said Governor Phil Scott. “The entire State team stands together to continue working until long-term drinking water solutions are in place for the entire impacted area, but today is a critical step.  I commend Saint-Gobain for continuing to work to resolve the remaining issues.”

“Clean drinking water is a human right,” said Attorney General Donovan. “Today’s announcement that Saint-Gobain has agreed to pay for a water line in parts of Bennington and North Bennington is a good first step. We are committed to working with the Governor, our Agency partners, and Bennington County’s legislative and community leaders to fight to get our neighbors in Bennington and North Bennington the clean water they deserve.”

I want to thank the entire State team,” said Senator Dick Sears on behalf of the legislative delegation.  “All have worked tirelessly to come to this point. We would also like to thank our constituents for their patience and support during these difficult times. Construction will begin and significant progress will be made in 2017. While significant work still needs to be done to bring long-term drinking water solutions to all residents, this is a significant milestone. We will all continue to press to make sure we achieve this result for everyone impacted.”

“Providing potable drinking water to citizens of Bennington and North Bennington has always been our shared goal,” said Tom Kinisky, President and CEO of Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics. “The point-of-entry treatment (POET) systems that we have already voluntarily installed, and our funding of the planned water line extensions, show our commitment to achieving this outcome.”

Members of the administration and the Attorney General’s Office will be on-hand in Bennington and North Bennington to discuss the terms of the settlement. The Agency of Natural Resources and Attorney General’s Office will host a community meeting on Wednesday evening at Bennington College, will be available to the community on Thursday during the day, and will host an open house on Thursday evening. The settlement agreement will be open for a 30-day public comment period. The details for those meetings are as follows:

Public Meeting:

WHO: Vermont Agency of Natural Resources and Vermont Attorney General’s Office

WHAT: A community meeting to discuss the settlement agreement and water line construction.

WHEN: Wednesday, 7/26/2017 @ 7pm

WHERE:
Tishman Lecture Hall
Bennington College Campus
1 College Drive, Bennington, VT 05201

Staff Availability:

WHO: Vermont Agency of Natural Resources and Vermont Attorney General’s Office

WHAT: Staff availability to discuss the settlement agreement and water line construction. 

WHEN: Thursday, 7/26/2017 10 am – 4 pm

WHERE:
Vermont Department of Health Offices
324 Main St. #2
Bennington, VT 05201

Open House:

WHO: Vermont Agency of Natural Resources and Vermont Attorney General’s Office

WHAT: An open house for community members to ask questions about the settlement agreement and water line construction.

WHEN: Thursday, 7/27/2017 @ 6 pm – 8 pm

WHERE:
Town of Bennington Fire Station
130 River Street
Bennington, VT 05201

The consent order will be filed on Wednesday in state court in Bennington and will be made available to the public after it is filed. Additional information about the State’s response to PFOA can be found here.