“EXETER, N.H. — Residents of Bennington participated in the first of several regional summits on PFOA/PFOS and related chemicals that the federal Environmental Protection Agency plans to sponsor over the coming year.

The New England gathering, which included both a public forum Monday and a series of workshops Tuesday involving environmental officials from the states, the federal government, municipal officials and others, is being held at Exeter High School in Exeter, New Hampshire. More than 200 people from the region attended the opening session.

Hundreds of Bennington residents were impacted by PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) contamination found in private wells in early 2016 around two former ChemFab Corp. factories that once coated fiberglass fabrics with Teflon. Those included David Bond, of the ongoing Understanding PFOA project at Bennington College, who gave one of several presentations before the gathered federal and state officials.

Bond said it was fitting that he followed a speaker from Merrimack, New Hampshire, because ChemFab was founded in Bennington in 1968 and maintained a factory there until 2002, when its Vermont operations were moved to Merrimack by Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics…

Bond said different regulations in every state and different levels of enforcement have made it much more difficult to address the complex challenges posed by PFOA. He recommended uniform, national approaches guided from the federal level, including legal action if necessary by the Department of Justice against polluters.

Bond contrasted Vermont’s quick action when contamination was found in Bennington County with the slower, less vigorous response from New York state to PFOA contamination in the Hoosick Falls, New York, area.

‘I think it is fair to say New York fumbled the response to PFOA contamination,’ Bond said, although he praised a recent lawsuit filed by that state in an attempt to hold companies that released the chemicals into the atmosphere responsible for the costs of dealing with the contamination.

‘I think of Vermont as a model for how to respond,’ he said.

Former Gov. Peter Shumlin and other officials, swooped in immediately after the tainted wells were discovered and held informational sessions. Water was delivered to residents, the state pressured Saint Gobain to extend a water line to affected residents and the Vermont Department of Health held screening clinics.”

Read the full article by Jim Therrien