A federal judge has given final approval to a $34 million settlement in a class-action lawsuit against a plastics company over toxic chemical contamination of soil and groundwater in a southern Vermont community.
Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corporation will pay $26.2 million into a fund to compensate Bennington area property owners for alleged damages and $6 million for a program to monitor the health of those exposed to perfluorooctanoic acid or PFOA, under the settlement approved Monday. VTDigger first reported on the final approval.
The settlement agreement provides significant monetary compensation to the owners of approximately 2,365 residential properties in Bennington and North Bennington contaminated with PFOA by the plants, according to Emily Joselson, a lawyer for the plaintiffs.
It also, for the first time in Vermont, establishes a 15-year medical monitoring program that will allow more than 500 class members “who unknowingly drank PFOA-contaminated water and have above background-levels of PFOA in their blood” to be monitored yearly “for the earliest signs or symptoms of medical conditions associated with PFOA,” Joselson said by email.
“I think this is going to be very significant for the community,” David Silver, another attorney for the plaintiffs, said Tuesday. “It also gives the community a sense of closure and the ability to go on but also very important is the remedy of medical monitoring, which was really groundbreaking,”
PFOA was traced to exhaust emissions from two former ChemFab Corp. factories, which had been bought by Saint-Gobain, the Bennington Banner has reported. The state and the public learned of the contamination in 2016 and the lawsuit was filed in May of that year. Saint-Gobain later paid more than $40 million to comply with state consent orders to extend municipal water lines and provide clean drinking water to homes with contaminated wells, Joselson said by email. The settlement resolves all plaintiffs’ claims alleged against Saint-Gobain.
Saint-Gobain said in a statement the company is pleased Judge Geoffrey Crawford “granted final approval of our settlement in Vermont and that this case has been resolved.”