From the Desk of Tom Kinisky
President and CEO of Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics
Learn more about the actions Saint-Gobain is taking in North Bennington to provide safe drinking water for the community.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: WHAT IS PFOA?
PFOA is short for perfluorooctanoic acid and is a synthetic chemical compound. Historically, PFOA was found in small amounts in the raw material of another compound, called PTFE, supplied to Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics by other companies.
Q: WHAT IS PTFE?
PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene) is a synthetic resin. PTFE is found in many consumer products such as non-stick pan coatings, waterproof clothing, and sprays that repel stains from fabrics and carpeting. It is also a critical component in such items as airplane wiring and cell phone tower circuitry.
Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics never manufactured PFOA or PTFE at any of its locations. We purchased PTFE from suppliers to manufacture products for various industries, including aerospace, automotive and electronics.
Q: I see levels for pfoa listed as ppt. what does this mean?
This stands for "parts per trillion" and is commonly noted as ppt. It is a term to describe contaminants in the environment. A ppt measures the concentration of the amount of one material in a larger amount of another material. For context, one ppt is the equivalent of one drop of water in 20 Olympic-sized swimming pools. Or, 1 second in nearly 32,000 years.
Q: I'm reading about two companies in the news - saint-gobain and chemfab. What is the difference here?
In 2000, Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics acquired the Chemfab plant in North Bennington. The facility was closed in 2002. Even before Saint-Gobain purchased Chemfab, the facility used PTFE, but the Performance Plastics business purchased PTFE during the two-year period of operation for use in manufacturing tapes for the aerospace, automotive and electronics industries, among others. Saint-Gobain has never manufactured PFOA or PTFE.
Q: HOW IS SAINT-GOBAIN PERFORMANCE PLASTICS WORKING WITH LOCAL OFFICIALS AND RESIDENTS OF NORTH BENNINGTON?
Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics is paying for bottled water and point-of-entry (POET) filtration systems for the wells that tested above the state limit of 20ppt for PFOA. We also agreed to conduct soil sampling and testing at designated locations within a 1.5 mile radius of the former Chemfab facility. While the source or sources of the elevated levels of PFOA have not yet been determined, the company is also developing a site investigation plan for the former plant, and paying to help the Department of Environmental Conservation with its investigation.
Q: WHAT DOES THE SAINT-GOBAIN PERFORMANCE PLASTICS PLANT IN NORTH BENNINGTON MAKE?
This plant was part of our Performance Plastics business and made coated fabrics for use in a range of industrial applications, including the aerospace, automotive and electronics industries, among others. The site was acquired by Saint-Gobain in 2000 and the plant closed in 2002.