Bennington, VT — Today, lawmakers and Bennington residents impacted by toxic PFAS contamination called on Governor Phil Scott to sign legislation (S.37) to help Vermonters access medical monitoring for diseases linked to toxic exposure. View the video footage of the press conference here.
S.37 holds polluters accountable for the harm caused by toxic chemical releases. The bill provides two important legal tools to address toxic pollution. The first legal remedy allows Vermonters to hold polluters accountable for the costs of medical monitoring required as a result of exposure to toxic chemicals. The second legal remedy provided by S.37 would allow state government to hold the companies that make dangerous chemicals liable for the harm they cause to Vermont’s air, land, and water.
Senator Dick Sears of Bennington noted, “This bill will help protect Vermonters who have been exposed to toxic substances, through no fault of their own, by making the polluter pay.”
“Here in Bennington County, we’ve lived with the devastating impacts of toxic contamination in our community. We’ve watched what happens when a corporate polluter harms Vermonters’ health and property, and threatens our bodies with long-term diseases — and then leaves us to pay the price,” said Bennington Senator Brian Campion.
“It’s too late for this legislation to help our community’s toxic PFAS contamination crisis. But we want the next Vermont community dealing with chemical contamination to have the comfort of knowing they won’t have to pay medical monitoring costs out of pocket, or not get the care they need if they can’t afford it,” added Campion.
In addition to the Bennington senators, four Bennington residents who have been impacted by toxic contamination spoke about their experiences.
Jim Sullivan of North Bennington (13:05) said: “My family will be dealing with toxic chemical exposure, likely for the rest of our lives, and the cost of medical monitoring can be substantial – especially for many families like ours with a high-deductible insurance plan. This bill won’t help my family, but for other Vermonters in this terrible situation, I strongly believe polluters should be responsible for these costs, not us.”
Sandy Sumner of Bennington (10:25), whose blood contamination level is 305 (his wife’s is 415), said: “I actually can’t believe we have to fight for this. I wouldn’t want the Governor or any of his loved ones to walk in our shoes, but I have to think if he did, his perspective [on this bill] would be very different.”
“This kind of thinking with business first over basic human rights is in stark contrast to what I, and most Vermonters, feel best represents this beautiful and wholesome state,” Sumner added.
Coleen Healy, a parent and educator of North Bennington (15:04), said: “I find it appalling that it’s even a question that if a corporation has done something, they’re not being held accountable. The Governor has to sign this bill.” Read more about Coleen’s story here: http://bit.ly/coleenhealy.
“Vermonters should have the right to action,” said Bill Knight (08:00), the president of a Bennington homeowners’ association with wells contaminated by PFOA, whose own blood level contamination is 18 times the national average.
The medical monitoring bill, S.37, passed by wide margins out of the House and Senate, and awaits action by the Governor. View the video footage of today’s press conference here.