Vt. and company remain in talks about payments

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BENNINGTON >> The state and the company deemed potentially responsible for PFOA contamination are still in talks over how to pay connect impacted homes to public water, officials say.

Officials with Gov. Peter Shumlin's office and the Department of Environmental Conservation met with Saint-Gobain Corporation representatives on Monday, according to Chuck Schwer, director of DEC's waste management and prevention division. They met to talk about the two engineering studies that estimate it would cost about $17 million to extend municipal water lines in the town and village. A community meeting is planned for June 29 at 6 p.m. at Bennington College's Tishman Auditorium. The meeting will be held so officials can provide an update on the PFOA issue and share and seek feedback on the engineering studies, according to Schwer.

DEC officials are also slated to attend Monday's Select Board meeting to provide an update and speak to the board and public.

State officials tested for PFOA, or perfluorooctanoic acid, near Bennington over concerns about nearby Hoosick Falls, N.Y. Saint-Gobain, along with Honeywell International, are two parties New York officials deemed responsible for contamination in the village, as predecessors of both companies operated there for decades.

Saint-Gobain and predecessor ChemFab operated in the village for 30 years. The Water Street factory is the suspected contamination source.

The company paid for the two engineering reports for the town and village municipal water systems. Both municipal systems are independent of each other; neither contain PFOA, a contaminant that has been linked to cancer and other diseases.

The project would extend water mains to an additional 230 properties in the town of Bennington, according to a report by MSK Engineering and Design.

In the village of North Bennington, the project would bring water to 34 properties with contaminated wells, with the potential for more properties hooking into it later, according to a report by Otter Creek Engineering.

PFOA was also detected in private wells and a municipal water system in Pownal, around the former Warren Wire No. 1 plant on Route 346. American Premier Underwriters (APU) is the party potentially responsible there, as a successor to Warren Wire/General Cable.

In New York, Saint-Gobain and Honeywell have signed consent orders requiring they reimburse the state and village for any costs and to fund cleanups. Vermont DEC has not entered into a consent order with any company. But Saint-Gobain and APU have agreed to funding bottled water and filtration systems.

In Pownal, a filter system for the Pownal Fire District No. 2, a municipal water system serving 450 customers, has been approved. Equipment is expected to be delivered sometime this week, Schwer said.

Schwer said the agency will soon be posting updated maps of where it has tested in North Bennington, Bennington and Pownal.

Contact Edward Damon at 413-770-6979


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