Back in 2016, French multinational corporation Saint-Gobain ‘fessed up to releasing carcinogenic chemicals from its premises in Merrimack, New Hampshire, causing private wells in the area to become contaminated though the local groundwater.
Bottled Water Hand-Out
Following the spill, bottled water was provided to residents with a private well within a one-mile radius of the plant, which meant supplying around 400 properties with bottled water.
The state gave Saint-Gobain strict deadlines to fix the problem, requiring the 350-year old corporation to conceive, design and install a water treatment solution to clean up the contamination.
A Satisfactory Solution?
Flash forward to March 2018, and state officials have reached “a monumental agreement” to ensure that everyone adversely affected can look forward to clean water once again.
“This is an agreement that hopefully will be welcomed by a lot of the residents that have been waiting for good news to be announced. They can finally know that they’re no longer in limbo and that they will be connected sooner rather than later.”
~ Jim Martin, Department of Environmental Services
The French giant, which calls itself “one of the oldest manufacturing companies in the world,” had originally met their obligation to replace 450 contaminated private wells with a connection to the municipal water supply. However, Saint-Gobain did not accept responsibility for the perfluorinated chemicals (PFC) contamination in approximately 300 other local wells.
Making the Right Connections
On March 20, 2018, the company finally agreed that they would also commit to replacing the remaining 298 private local wells in dispute with a connection to a clean water supply.
It’s good news for those affected and reassuring that Saint-Gobain will also be required to carry out on-going environmental monitoring and testing. But for a company that’s battled previous class action lawsuits for similar water contamination problems, was Saint-Gobain a little too complacent in the first place?
Saint-Gobain has, it seems, taken steps to contain the latest contamination. But where will the next one be? Whether it’s this company or a different one, it would probably be naïve to think that there won’t be a next time.
Groundwater is increasingly rife with contaminants. Pesticides, herbicides, manure run off and industrial waste can all make their way into private wells that aren’t subject to compulsory testing.
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