The state has reached a settlement with the owners of a manufacturing facility that may be linked to the contamination of hundreds of private drinking wells in the Bennington area.
Saint-Gobain has agreed to pay the bulk of a $45 million infrastructure project that will extend municipal water lines to nearly 500 homes and businesses in Bennington and North Bennington.
Under the terms of the settlement, Vermont will pick up about $5 million of the project costs. Attorney General TJ Donovan said it’s unlikely the state would have seen a better outcome had it pursued a lawsuit against Saint-Gobain.
“People can dig in and we can litigate, and I can tell you that we would be back here in five or seven years probably in the same ballpark,” Donovan said Wednesday.
Gov. Phil Scott said it won’t be feasible to extend municipal water lines to all of the households whose wells were contaminated by PFOA, the chemical suspected to have possibly stemmed from the former Chemfab plant in North Bennington.
In those instances, Scott said Saint-Gobain will pay to drill new wells for those homes, or cover the cost of water treatment systems.
Saint-Gobain agreed in 2017 to pay for a $20 million water line extension in North Bennington. Under the settlement announced Wednesday, the company will pay for the majority of a water line extension in Bennington that’s expected to cost as much as $25 million.
Construction on the water line extension will begin this summer and is expected to take two years.
The settlement does not affect a class-action lawsuit filed by Bennington-area homeowners against Saint-Gobain.