edgar gentle III

Edgar Gentle III, of Gentle, Turner & Benson, of Hoover, Alabama, is the court-appointed administrator for PFOA medical monitoring programs taking shape for residents of Bennington and Hoosick Falls and Petersburgh, New York, who were exposed to the industrial chemical in drinking water. The monitoring will be done at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center.

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BENNINGTON — Medical screening for conditions and illnesses associated with exposure to the industrial chemical perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) are scheduled to begin soon for residents of Hoosick and Petersburgh, New York, and by early next year in Bennington.

Edgar Gentle III, of Gentle, Turner & Benson, of Hoover, Alabama, is the court-appointed medical monitoring program administrator for all three communities.

In each community, monitoring programs for those exposed – primarily through drinking contaminated water — were part of lawsuit settlement agreements in Vermont and New York courts, he said.

PFOA or similar chemicals contaminated drinking water and led to suits against the companies involved.

QUALIFICATION PROCESS

Reached by phone, Gentle said Wednesday that the registration and qualification process for the New York sites has been completed, and those who will be monitored for diseases and conditions associated with PFOA or other PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) chemicals should receive more information soon.

He said the actual monitoring program for New York residents should begin in early November.

All of the programs will be based at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center with medical staff there.

Monitoring will focus on diseases and conditions associated with PFOA exposure, which include kidney and testicular cancer; liver function disorders; thyroid disease; ulcerative colitis; and high cholesterol conditions.

VERMONT PROGRAM

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Bennington’s program, stemming from a settlement this spring of a class action suit against Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics over contamination of wells around former ChemFab Corp. plants in town, is still in the registration and qualification stage, said Katherine “Kip” Benson, a partner in Gentle’s firm.

“It will be a couple of months more for Bennington,” she said.

To qualify for up to 15 years of monitoring, the Bennington area residents or former residents must have lived in the contamination zone and must provide a copy of results from a blood test showing they have elevated levels of PFOA or have a test taken.

INFORMATION

Information about qualifying and registering is available in the “frequent questions and answers” section on the Bennington lawsuit website. In the Hoosick Falls area, information on the lawsuit settlements and monitoring can be found at the suit website. And in Petersburgh, the lawsuit information is also on the suit website.

The law firm also has a toll-free number for information about all three monitoring programs – 877-229-1937, Gentle said.

There will be about 1,400 participants expected in the Hoosick Falls program and about 150 from the Petersburgh area, he said. The number in Bennington is in the hundreds, but the exact number won’t be known until the qualification stage is completed.

The Bennington class-action settlement with Saint-Gobain included $6 million for medical monitoring for up to 15 years.

The settlement with Saint-Gobain also included $26.2 for property damage claims related to the PFOA contamination. Those claims are being processed, and the suit attorneys said this week they hope to have all claim checks mailed out by the end of 2022.

Jim Therrien writes for Vermont News and Media, including the Bennington Banner, Manchester Journal and Brattleboro Reformer. Email jtherrien@benningtonbanner.com


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