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New water lines to homes with contaminated wells completed

November 16, 2021 GMT

BENNINGTON, Vt. (AP) — New pipes bringing water to more than 440 homes near Bennington have finished being installed after chemical contamination was found in groundwater wells in 2016.

Gov. Phil Scott and other officials gathered at a pump station Monday to mark the completion of the project to provide water to homes whose wells were contaminated by a group of chemicals known as PFAS, the Bennington Banner reported.

The state spent $50 million to lay some 21 miles of new water mains and 15 miles of service lines.

The chemicals were traced to exhaust emissions from two ChemFab Corp. factories that closed in 2002, though the contamination was discovered only in 2016.

The last owner of the factories, the French-owned Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics, reached an agreement in court to reimburse the state for much of the cost of the project, the newspaper reported.

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Saint-Gobain is also obligated to take water samples and if necessary, to remedy contamination, under agreements reached with the state.

ChemFab coated fabrics at plants in Bennington and North Bennington for more than 30 years. Earlier this month, Saint-Gobain agreed to pay $34 million to residents involved in a class action lawsuit. A judge must approve the settlement, but part of those funds would go to medical monitoring of residents.

The Biden administration announced plans in October to clean up sites contaminated by the so-called forever chemicals, set new drinking water limits for PFAS and expand the testing of food for contamination.

Speaking with officials, Bennington resident Lora Block thanked state Department of Environmental Conservation staff for their repeated trips to the town over the years and for “facing our questions, facing our anger, facing our confusion,” the newspaper reported.