Toxics Action Center
Toxics Action Center

Community Groups Across the Country Speak Out for Health Protective PFAS Drinking Water Standards following Saint-Gobain Dropping Lawsuit Against the State of Vermont

Montpelier, Vt. — The multinational corporation Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics agreed to dismiss the lawsuit against the State of Vermont challenging the perfluorooctanoic acid (“PFOA”) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (“PFOS”) groundwater standards. This new agreement between the State of Vermont and the potentially responsible company to uphold the state’s more stringent groundwater standards follows growing scientific evidence and escalating community concern regarding the toxicity of these chemicals even at very small concentrations.

In 2016, PFOA contamination was discovered in the groundwater and drinking water supply wells in the vicinity of the former Saint-Gobain manufacturing plant in North Bennington, Vermont, leading to the state of Vermont to designate a groundwater enforcement standard of 20 parts per trillion (ppt) for PFOA and PFOS, both toxic perfluorinated carbons known collectively under the umbrella acronym PFAS.

“The fact that the State of Vermont was sued because they were trying to protect their residents from getting sick from contaminated drinking water just shows how broken our chemical regulatory system is,” said Shaina Kasper, Vermont State Director with Toxics Action Center, a public health non-profit working with community groups facing PFAS drinking water contamination.“We need to close the loopholes in our chemical use regulations, including national enforceable drinking water standards that are science-based for infants, children, and vulnerable populations, and for combined total of all PFAS. And in the meantime, we need to support state-level change for more health protective drinking water standards, and to close the loopholes in state chemical use so that this type of contamination doesn’t happen in the first place.”

“I applaud the proactive efforts made by state of Vermont to protect the public health of their children and families both in terms of legislation and effective concrete actions to provide safe drinking water to their citizens,” said Mindi Messmer, a state legislator from Rye and active in the community coalition New Hampshire Safe Water Alliance. “They held their ground when sued by Saint-Gobain for the 20 ppt PFOA standard to protect Vermonters from polluted water. Vermont should be a model for other states, like New Hampshire, that face drinking water crises.”

“Having Saint-Gobain dismiss this lawsuit in Vermont has huge ramifications for not just Vermont’s drinking water, but for community groups in New Hampshire, the rest of the United States, and the world,” said Andrea Amico, leader of the community group Testing for Pease. “We’ve been fighting here in New Hampshire for lower drinking water standards for the PFAS chemicals and the drop of this lawsuit marks a significant precedent for stronger PFAS regulations nationally.”

“The lawsuit centered on Saint-Gobain’s challenge of Vermont’s groundwater enforcement standard of 20 ppt for PFOA and PFOS, which the company alleged was ‘not supportable by science,’” said Lizzie Tisher, staff attorney at the Vermont Law School Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic. “There is more than an adequate scientific basis supporting Vermont’s standard, and this lawsuit only delayed efforts to bring clean, safe drinking water to North Bennington. We hope this marks the beginning of Saint-Gobain working closely with concerned residents and the state to fully extend the municipal water line.”

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To learn more about the PFAS contamination crisis, and to see information from a national PFAS conference held June 14-15 in Boston, please visit PFASProject.com

To learn more about the impacts of PFAS on human health, see PFASHealth.info

To learn more about the community groups facing PFAS contamination in their communities, and to take action, see PFASProject.net

Take action here: actionnetwork.org/petitions/we-need-enforceable-pfas-drinking-water-standards