BENNINGTON, V.t. (NEWS10) — Over the next decade, Southwestern Vermont Medical Center in Bennington will be the site where those affected by PFOA contamination can submit to medical monitoring.
“The monitoring is to see if there is in-organ damage that could be attributed to PFOAs or other causes. As people get older, people are on medicines, people who have a disease are going to find abnormalities in their blood work,” explains Trey Dobson, chief medical officer at SVMC. “We’re monitoring on a regular basis and if there are abnormalities, the next question is: can they be attributed to PFOAs?”
The medical monitoring is covered by a $65 million settlement with Saint Gobain Performance Plastics, 3M, and Honeywell. Around 3,000 people are eligible for the program in Hoosick Falls, Petersburgh, and Bennington. Trey Dobson says while the monitoring is completely free through the settlement made last fall, not everyone affected will participate. “Typically, in medical monitoring programs, there’s about a 50% participation rate. We are hoping to move that to a 75% participation rate.”
The reason the medical monitoring will last for over a decade is due to the fact that anyone affected by a carcinogen like PFOA, it takes years for medical abnormalities to develop, if any develop at all. Dobson says he expects very few to have abnormalities “So the idea is to start the program now so we can get a baseline value and move forward and monitor people to see if there are any abnormalities that develop,” Dobson says.
Monitoring for those affected in New York has already begun as of last week. For those in Bennington, the registration and qualification process is still in the works.
Months after settlement checks were distributed in July, a federal judge in Albany granted class action status for Hoosick Falls against DuPont. “We intend to get the additional compensation from DuPont through either trial or settlement to make the residents who own property whole with regard to the loss of value of their property and to extend the medical monitoring program to what has been medically recommended,” explains Stephen Schwarz, one of four class action attorneys that have been appointed by the court.
DuPont, along with 3M, Honeywell and Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics are alleged to have polluted water in Hoosick Falls with PFOAs for decades. According to Schwarz, the class action certification motion had not been decided before the three companies settled with the village in 2021. That left DuPont open for possible further litigation after a judge granted the class action status this week.