BENNINGTON — Erin Brockovich, the famous environmental and consumer activist, will speak at Bennington College on Saturday about water contamination in nearby Hoosick Falls, N.Y.
The town hall meeting, announced Thursday by the New York City law firm Brockovich consults with, will be at the college's Greenwall Auditorium between noon and 2 p.m. The meeting is free and open to the public, but seating is on a first come, first serve basis and subject to capacity. For directions to the auditorium, visit: www.benningtondance.org/greenwall.html.
In addition to speaking about her experiences with water contamination, Brockovich will also tour the village where potentially dangerous levels of perfluorooctanoic acid, often called PFOA or C8, was found in the water supply serving some 4,900 people.
"Open meetings are a great way for us to meet community members," Robin Greenwall, at attorney with Weitz & Luxenberg who heads the firm's Environmental, Toxic Tort & Consumer Protection litigation unit, told the Banner on Thursday.
Brochovich, who was portrayed by Julia Roberts in a 2000 biographical film carrying her name, maintains a website and, according to Greenwall, receives messages from concerned people living around the country. Brochovich has been contacted by concerned Hoosick Falls residents, Greenwall said, and they both decided it would be a good idea to organize a meeting in the area.
Since earlier this month, Brochovich and her legal team with Weitz & Luxenberg have been studying causes and effects of PFOA, a synthetic substance formerly used in manufacturing products like no-stick cookware, dental floss and electrical insulation.
The investigation was conducted "to allow the firm to seek justice for affected residents from those responsible for the contamination," according to Greenwall.
PFOA was first found in the water supply in 2014 after a concerned resident paid to have water samples tested. Testing found PFOA levels above the EPA's recommended limit for human consumption. High levels were found at the Saint-Gobain Performance Plastic property at 14 McCaffrey St.
The EPA issued a statement in December 2015 warning residents not to drink or cook with the water and limit exposure as much as possible.
In a wide sweeping action plan announced by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo this week, the McCaffrey Street facility was added to the list of state Superfund sites, a move that unlocks money for a cleanup. The state has also requested the area be listed as a federal Superfund Site. The EPA says a full investigation is necessary to determine how far the contamination has spread in the groundwater and what company caused the contamination.
Saint-Gobain, the French multinational corporation that has owned the McCaffrey Street site since the mid 1990s, says PFOA has not been manufactured there. But the company has been paying for bottled water for residents and will pay for carbon filters for the village.
Contact Edward Damon at 413-770-6979.