Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics is facing renewed pressure over pollution from fluorinated chemicals around its factories, with environmental regulators in New York now pushing the company to help pay for a multimillion-dollar upgrade of one town's drinking water system.
New York's Department of Environmental Conservation unveiled a plan Dec. 3 to have both Saint-Gobain and Honeywell International support a $9.7 million plan for a new drinking water system in the town of Hoosick Falls.
Meanwhile, nearby in New Hampshire, a group of state and local lawmakers held a news conference Nov. 29 to press that state's environmental agency to shut down or curtail operations at another Saint-Gobain factory, in the city of Merrimack.
Those lawmakers cited concerns about residential drinking water supplies getting contaminated by so-called "forever" fluorinated chemicals leaking from the Merrimack factory, echoing worries in Hoosick Falls.
In New York, the state DEC released a long-awaited plan Dec. 3 that called for using New York's Superfund law to have Saint-Gobain and Honeywell "implement" the $9.7 million DEC plan to provide Hoosick Falls with new sources of drinking water.
"Today's announcement is a significant milestone in our multi-year efforts to provide a permanent and clean water supply to the people of Hoosick Falls," DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said in a statement.
"In addition to the implementation of the new, clean drinking water supply, DEC continues to require Honeywell and Saint-Gobain to identify and address the sources of PFOA contamination in this community," the DEC said.
The DEC plan would create new production wells away from aquifers it says have been contaminated by historical releases of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) in companies' manufacturing operations, and then build a new water line to connect to the town's treatment plant.
State officials said the companies have 60 days to tell DEC if they will implement the plan.
Saint-Gobain did not respond to a request for comment, but the company has previously told New York lawmakers that it's fully committed to providing Hoosick Falls with drinking water that exceeds PFOA safety standards and it has maintained a website, hoosickwater.com, to discuss its efforts.
It said, for example, that PFOA dropped to nondetectable levels in the water system in early 2016 after it installed a filter system.
The DEC report said the Saint-Gobain plant makes sheets of polytetrafluoroethylene resin and said the facility has been making PTFE products under various owners since the early 1960s. Allied Signal, which is now part of Honeywell, owned the plant before Saint-Gobain.